"Lost in the Stars" Official Press Release - Dallas Theatre Three

For Immediate Release Media Contact: Kimberly Richard, 214-871-3300; kimberly@theatre3dallas.com

May 1, 2009

Onstage at Theatre Three: Lost in the Stars

(Dallas, Texas) Theatre Three’s 2008-2009 Season concludes with the dramatic musical, Lost in the Stars by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson. Theatre Three’s forty-eighth season is a world tour of theater. Beginning with the comic mayhem of a garden festival at an English manor house, the season concludes with the harrowing drama of a South African courtroom. The shows between include a homegrown military drama, a romantic musical set in Florence, a witty Spanish Golden Age comedy, a modern French flirtatious farce, and a classic mystery set on the Nile River. Lost in the Stars begins previews on Thursday, May 14, 2009 and will close on Sunday, June 14, 2009.

In the hills of Ndotsheni, a small African village, Reverend Stephen Kumalo misses his son, Absolom, who left his hometown to earn money in Johannesburg. Stephen and his wife, Grace, have not heard from Absolom in a year, and Grace fears her son has abandoned the family. When Stephen receives a letter from his brother requesting assistance with some family affairs in Johannesburg, Grace urges her husband to take this opportunity to look for Absolom. Stephen’s search for his son takes him on an epic exploration of the dangerous side of Johannesburg and ends with him finding Absolom in prison, accused of murdering a white man. Based on Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, Lost in the Stars is the captivating emotional journey of loss, grief, redemption, and the resultant peace that only forgiveness and reconciliation can bring.
About The Playwrights: Kurt Weill & Maxwell Anderson
Kurt Weill (composer): The son of a cantor, Kurt Weill (1900-1950) was raised in a religious Jewish home in Dessau, Germany. He took an early interest in music; his first teacher was Albert Bing, conductor at the local opera house. At eighteen, Weill went to Berlin, experiencing its political and artistic ferment firsthand. A few months' study with Engelbert Humperdinck did not satisfy him, but late in 1920 he began an intensive association with Ferruccio Busoni in the composition seminar at the Akademie der Künste. By the end of 1923, he had had five full-length works performed in Germany. The next few years brought further success: a popular violin concerto and his first opera, The Protagonist (1926, Georg Kaiser). Through Kaiser, Weill met the actress Lotte Lenya in Berlin in 1924, and they married in January 1926. They were divorced from 1933-1937, but they remarried and stayed together until his death.
Weill's early works show the influence of post-romanticism, expressionism, even atonality. Yet the desire to create "freer, lighter, and simpler" music grew on him. The early operas Royal Palace (1927) and The Czar Has his Photograph Taken (1928) show the influence of jazz and popular music. He began working with Bertolt Brecht in the spring of 1927, setting the "Mahagonny" poems. Mahagonny's hummable tunes and thoroughgoing popular influence seemed calculated to shock the avant-garde; the charge that he had "sold out" to commercialism and abandoned art followed him thereafter. Later compositions, like The Threepenny Opera and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny elaborated on his popular style. But a much different style animates other works with Brecht, such as He Who Says Yes, an opera for students, and The Lindbergh Flight, a cantata.
The collaboration with Brecht ended around 1930, and Weill's last two compositions in Germany were written with others: The Pledge (1932, Caspar Neher) and The Silver Lake (1933, Georg Kaiser). Hitler's ascent in 1933 forced Weill to leave Germany, never to return. He spent two frustrating years in Paris, finding little sympathy for his new compositions: The Seven Deadly Sins (1933, Brecht), A Kingdom for a Cow (1935, Robert Vambery), and the Second Symphony (1934). His work on The Eternal Road (1937, Franz Werfel), a pageant based on the Old Testament, brought him to the U.S. in September 1935.
Weill's American career was as active as his European career. He had two major successes on Broadway: Lady in the Dark (1941, Moss Hart and Ira Gershwin) and One Touch of Venus (1943, Ogden Nash and S.J. Perelman). His most important works for Broadway, at least in terms of influence, were probably Street Scene (1947, Elmer Rice and Langston Hughes) and Love Life (1948, Alan Jay Lerner). Weill considered Street Scene a "Broadway opera," and his project of making opera more palatable to Broadway audiences was carried forward by Menotti, Blitzstein, and Bernstein. Several experts have pointed to Love Life as the precursor of the "concept musical," influencing Fosse, Sondheim, and Kander & Ebb. All together, he brought eight shows to Broadway and saw three other stage works produced in the U.S.
Weill's constant hard work and family history of hypertension caught up with him early in 1950. While his last work, Lost in the Stars (1949, Maxwell Anderson), still ran on Broadway, and shortly after he and Anderson had begun a musical version of Huckleberry Finn, Weill had a heart attack and was hospitalized in New York City, where he died on April 3.
Maxwell Anderson (book & lyrics): Born in Atlantic, Pennsylvania, and educated at the University of North Dakota and at Stanford, he became a playwright only after careers as a schoolteacher and a journalist. His first produced play, The White Desert (1923), a study of the tragic consequences of marital jealousy, was a failure, but success followed when he collaborated with Laurence Stallings on the war drama What Price Glory? (1924). After several other less satisfactory collaborations with Stallings, he again found acclaim with his picture of white collar married life, Saturday's Children (1927). Anderson's first attempt to dramatize the Sacco-Vanzetti case, Gods of the Lightning (1928), written with Harold Hickerson, won little attention; but later in the same season his examination of a mercurial, unstable flapper, Gypsy (1929), won some high praise.
He turned to blank verse drama for his recounting of the Elizabeth Essex story, Elizabeth the Queen (1930), and its success prompted him to write many of his subsequent dramas in similar blank verse, making him the only major 20thcentury American playwright to do so. His subsequent highly lauded plays include Night Over Taos (1932), about the Spanish resistance to American advances in early 19th century New Mexico; the political satire Both Your Houses (1933); Mary of Scotland (1933), centering on Mary Stuart; Valley Forge (1934), dealing with Washington's struggles in the Revolutionary War; Winterset (1935), another play based on Sacco and Vanzetti and the first work to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award; Wingless Victory (1936), a story of a doomed interracial marriage; and the fantasy High Tor (1937). His 1937 verse play about the Mayerling incident, The Masque of Kings, failed, but was followed by The Star Wagon (1937), a fantasy about a couple who return to their youth to reconsider their lives. More verse plays followed: Key Largo (1939), dealing with the Spanish Civil War; Journey to Jerusalem (1940), a story of the young Jesus; and Candle in the Wind (1941), an antiwar play. The Eve of St. Mark (1942) depicted a family farm during the war, Storm Operation (1944) centered on the North African campaign, and Truckline Cafe (1946) told of an ex-soldier's search for his unfaithful, shamed wife. Joan of Lorraine (1946) succeeded largely on the appeal of Ingrid Bergman in the title role.
He used historical personages Anne Boleyn in Anne of the Thousand Days (1948) and Socrates in Barefoot in Athens (1951), and adapted William March's novel about a vicious child, The Bad Seed (1954). Anderson also wrote the book and lyrics for two Kurt Weill musicals: Knickerbocker Holiday (1938), which included “September Song,” and Lost in the Stars (1949). His frustration with producers led him to cofound the Playwrights' Company in 1938, and he often railed against the drama critics, once calling them “a sort of Jukes family of journalism” and adding, “It is an insult to our theatre that there should be so many incompetents and irresponsibles among them.” John Mason Brown recalled him as “a great, shy bear of a man, rich in humility and conscience, haunted by a high vision of tragedy, a better dramatist than poet, needing actors to lift his verse into poetry but bravely trying to bring back the music of language to a tone-deaf stage.”

About Theatre Three:
Theatre Three was founded in 1961 by Norma Young, Jac Alder, Esther Ragland, and Robert Dracup with a clear mission: Theatre Three seeks to illuminate the human experience with exemplary, intimate theatrical productions while nurturing authors, regional artists and audiences.

About Theatre Three’s production of Lost in the Stars:
Jac Alder will direct this production. The cast includes A. Soloman Abah, Jr. as John Kumalo, Bennie Adkins as Johannes Parfuri, Ozioma Akagha as Sutty, Akin’ Babatunde’ as Stephen Kumalo, Andrew Benatti as Edward Jarvis, Blake Blair as Arthur Jarvis, Chad Daniels as Burton, Jonathon Horne as Mark Eland, Raliegh “Tré” Jones as Alex, Kyle Zachary Lee Kelesoma as Foreman, Jiles R. King, II as Paulus/Hlabeni, Gale McCray as Judge, Liz Mikel as Leader/Linda, Kamelle Mills as Jared, Rashida Moore as Rose, Delynda Johnson Moravec as Governess, Cedric Neal as Absolom Kumalo, Rachel Elizabeth Perkins as Grace Kumalo, Crystal Ramón as Ms. Mkize, Darius-Anthony Robinson as Matthew, Miracle Sheppard as Nita, Kristen Smith as Irina, Rachel Starkey as Banker’s Wife, Terry Vandivort as James Jarvis, Lee Jamison Wadley as Merchant’s wife, Gary Williams as William, and Jane Willingham as Judge’s wife.

Musical direction by Terry Dobson and Vonda Bowling. Set design by Jac Alder. Lighting design by Josh Blann. Costume Design by Michael Robinson. Sound design by Mark C. Guerra.

A Note about Production Photos:
Photos from Lost in the Stars can be found online next week in Theatre Three’s Press Room at http://www.theatre3dallas.com.

The Official Openings:
Official Opening Night is Monday, May 18, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. All press please R.S.V.P to Kimberly Richard at 214-871-3300, option #2 or kimberly@theatre3dallas.com.

Performance Times:
Preview Performances:
Thursday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 15 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, May 16 at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, May 17 at 2:30 p.m.

Regular Performances:
Thursdays & Sundays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., Saturday & Sunday matinees
at 2:30 p.m.

Additional special performances:
Miser’s Night Out: Sunday, June 7, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. All tickets $10
The Hooky Matinee: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. All tickets $10

Ticket Prices:
Previews: $15 -- $40 (May 14 – May 18, 2009)
Regular Run: $10 -- $40 (May 21 – June 14, 2009)
Tickets may be purchased by calling Theatre Three’s box office at 214-871-3300, option #1. Tickets may be requested online at www.theatre3dallas.com

To Contact Theatre Three:
By post: 2800 Routh Street, Suite 168, Dallas, Texas 75201
By phone: 214-871-3300
By fax: 214-871-3139
By email: admin@theatre3dallas.com
By web: www.theatre3da

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