La Jolla Playhouse Announces Additional Projects for Season

The musical "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Ether Dome" will be added to the 2014-2015 season.

Patch file photo
Patch file photo

Editor's Note: La Jolla Playhouse released the following announcement.

La Jolla Playhouse announces two additional projects for its 2014-2015 season: the U.S. premiere of the musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame, written by the multiple Academy, Grammy and Tony Award-winning team of composer Alan Menken (Newsies, Little Shop of Horrors) and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin), featuring a book by Peter Parnell (The West WingOn a Clear Day You Can See Forever) and directed by Scott Schwartz (Playhouse’s Jane Eyre, Broadway’s Golda’s Balcony). Produced by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, the musical will run Oct. 28 – Dec. 7 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre.

The Playhouse will also mount the West Coast premiere of Ether Dome, by Elizabeth Egloff (Playhouse’s The Swan), directed by Michael Wilson, in a co-production with the Huntington Theatre Company, to run July 11 – August 10 in the Mandell Weiss Forum.

“With great anticipation, I look forward to collaborating with the powerhouse creative team of Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz, Peter Parnell and Scott Schwartz to bring Victor Hugo’s classic story to life. I am particularly intrigued by the musical’s themes of love and aloneness, obsession and heroism – themes that still resonate with our audiences today. Like Peter and the Starcatcher, this potent new work explores new theatrical forms, one of the hallmarks of the Playhouse’s mission,” said La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley.

“It’s a delight to welcome back Liz Egloff – a writer possessed of a singular voice and a multitude of remarkable ideas, who brings to vivid life the human drama behind one of the greatest innovations in medical history,” continued Ashley. “In this era of national healthcare overhaul and in our local community of major biotech and medical technological development, there couldn’t be a more perfect time or place to mount this gripping new piece.”

About The Hunchback of Notre Name

Based on the Victor Hugo novel and featuring the Oscar-nominated score from the 1996 Disney animated classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the only stage collaboration from two masters of the American musical theatre, composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz. Celebrated for such beloved and award-winning works as Menken’s Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Little Shop of Horrors and Schwartz's Godspell, Pippin and Wicked, their artistry reaches its zenith in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. 

Featuring a lush, emotionally rich score, this brand-new production from acclaimed director Scott Schwartz highlights the music's orchestral power and choral beauty in an intimate retelling of the famous love story. Librettist Peter Parnell finds a bold, highly-theatrical take on the moving tale of the scorned bell-ringer Quasimodo, the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda and the dashing Captain Phoebus in 15th century Paris. The creative team also includes Josh Bergasse (Smash), choreographer; Michael Kosarin (Newsies), music supervisor and arranger; Michael Starobin (Tangled), orchestrator; Alexander Dodge (Playhouse’s Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin), scenic design; Alejo Vietti (Beautiful), costume design; Howell Binkley (Memphis, Jersey Boys), lighting design and Gareth Owen (A Little Night Music), sound design. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is produced by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, who earlier had developed Peter and the Starcatcher at La Jolla Playhouse as part of the Page To Stage Play Development program before it went on to win five Tony Awards on Broadway.

About Ether Dome

When a new treatment promises to eradicate pain, a doctor and his student play out an epic battle between altruism and ambition.  Based on the true story of the discovery of ether as an anesthetic in 1846, Ether Dome is a fascinating new play that explores the pain that afflicts humankind, our attempts to find relief and the beginning of healthcare as big business.

The Playhouse’s 2014/2015 season also features the previously-announced Page To Stage workshop production Chasing the Song, a new musical by the team behind the Tony-winning Memphis, with book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music and lyrics by David Bryan, directed by Christopher Ashley, running May 13 – June 15 in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre; The Orphan of Zhao, in a new adaptation by James Fenton, directed by Carey Perloff and featuring BD Wong, co-produced with American Conservatory Theatre, running July 8 – August 3 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre; The Bald Soprano, by Eugene Ionesco, directed by UCSD Department of Theatre & Dance’s Head of Directing Gabor Tompa, running September 23 – October 19 in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre; and Kingdom City by Sheri Wilner, helmed by 2012 Tony-winning director Pam MacKinnon, running February 10 – March 8, 2015 in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. 

Tickets to the 2014/2015 season will be available in mid-February through a subscription purchase only by calling the Patron Services Department at 858-550-1010LaJollaPlayhouse.org.


The nationally-acclaimed, Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse is known for its tradition of creating the most exciting and adventurous new work in regional theatre. The Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, and is considered one of the most well-respected not-for-profit theatres in the country. Numerous Playhouse productions have moved to Broadway, including the currently running, multiple Tony Award-winning hit Jersey Boys, as well as Big River, The Who’s Tommy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Walk in the Woods, Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays, the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Farnsworth Invention, 33 Variations, Peter and the StarcatcherBonnie & ClydeChaplin and Hands on a Hardbody. Located on the UC San Diego campus, La Jolla Playhouse is made up of three primary performance spaces: the Mandell Weiss Theatre, the Mandell Weiss Forum Theatre and the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for La Jolla Playhouse, a state-of-the-art theatre complex which features the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. La Jolla Playhouse is led by Artistic Director Christopher Ashley and Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg.


Biographies: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Alan Menken (Music). Theatre: God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Little Shop of Horrors, Real Life Funnies, Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy, Kicks, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Weird Romance, King David, Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Leap of Faith, Newsies and Aladdin. Film: Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Life with Mikey, Lincoln (TV miniseries), Home on the Range, Noel, Enchanted, Shaggy Dog, Tangled and Mirror Mirror. Songs: “Rocky V,” “Home Alone 2” and “Captain America.”  Awards: eight Oscars (19 nominations), 11 Grammy Awards (including Song of the Year), seven Golden Globes®, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, New York Drama Critics, Olivier and London's Evening Standard Awards.  Honors: Songwriters Hall of Fame, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Doctorates from New York University and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.


Stephen Schwartz (Lyrics) is currently represented on Broadway by the music and lyrics for Wicked andPippin. He has also contributed music and/or lyrics to Godspell, The Magic Show, The Baker’s Wife, Working(which he also adapted and directed), Rags and Children of Eden. In addition to the Disney animated featureThe Hunchback of Notre Dame, he collaborated with composer Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’sPocahontas and Enchanted. For children, he has written songs for two musicals, Captain Louie and Disney’sMy Son Pinocchio. Other credits include the songs for the DreamWorks animated feature The Prince of Egypt, collaborating with Leonard Bernstein on the English texts for Bernstein’s Mass, and the title song for the play and movie Butterflies Are Free. His first opera, Séance on a Wet Afternoon, was produced at Opera Santa Barbara and New York City Opera. A book about his career, “Defying Gravity,” has recently been released by Applause Books. Schwartz has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Awards include three Academy, four Grammy Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and a tiny handful of tennis trophies. www.stephenschwartz.com.


Peter Parnell (Book) most recently wrote the new book for the Broadway revival of Lerner and Lane’s On a Clear Day You Can See Forever starring Harry Connick Jr. and Jessie Mueller. His plays include Trumpery(Atlantic Theatre Company), QED starring Alan Alda (Mark Taper Forum, Vivian Beaumont, LCT), a two-part stage adaptation of John Irving’s The Cider House Rules (Seattle Rep, Taper, Atlantic, American Theatre Critics Association Award). His other plays, Sorrows of StephenThe Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, Romance Language, Hyde in Hollywood, Flaubert’s Latest and An Imaginary Life, were first produced by the Public Theater and at Playwrights Horizons. For television, Parnell was a co-producer for The West Wing (two Emmy Award® citations), and a producer for The Guardian, Inconceivable and Six Degrees. His children’s book And Tango Makes Three, co-authored with Justin Richardson, was an American Library Association Notable Book, a Henry Bergh Award winner, and has either headed or been on the ALA’s Top Ten List of Most Banned Books from 2006-2012. Parnell has served on the Literary Award Committee of PEN, and has taught writing at Dartmouth, the New School, Columbia, the Yale School of Drama, and currently at NYU. He proudly serves as Vice-President of The Dramatists Guild.


Scott Schwartz (Director) directed the Broadway productions of Golda’s Balcony and Jane Eyre (co-directed with John Caird). His Off-Broadway work includes Murder for TwoBat Boy: The Musical (Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards, Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical; Drama Desk Award nomination, Outstanding Director of a Musical), tick, tick…BOOM! (Outer Critics Circle, Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical; Drama Desk nomination, Outstanding Director of a Musical), The Foreigner starring Matthew Broderick, Rooms: A Rock RomanceKafka’s The Castle (Outer Critics Circle nomination, Outstanding Director of a Play) and No Way to Treat a Lady. He also directed Golda’s Balcony on tour, in London, in Los Angeles at the Wadsworth Theatre and in San Francisco at American Conservatory Theatre. He directed the world premiere of Séance on a Wet Afternoon starring Lauren Flanigan at Opera Santa Barbara and subsequently at New York City Opera. Schwartz’s other recent credits include the world premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s What We’re Up Against, Much Ado About Nothing and Othello at the Alley Theatre, the world premiere of Secondhand Lions at the 5th Avenue, and Next to Normal at the Alliance Theatre. Regional theaters include: Arizona Theatre Company, Asolo Rep, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Dallas Theatre Center, Denver Center, Goodspeed, La Jolla Playhouse, Old Globe, Paper Mill Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, PCPA, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Portland Center Stage, Rubicon, Signature Theatre, Theatreworks, Virginia Stage Company, Westport Country Playhouse, and others. Schwartz is the Artistic Director of Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY and is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, an Associate Artist at the Alley Theatre and a graduate of Harvard University.


Biographies: Ether Dome

Elizabeth Egloff (Playwright) has worked with Michael Wilson on several projects, the foremost of which isEther Dome. Her other plays include The Swan, which has been given numerous productions across the country and abroad, including during the Playhouse’s 1992 season. Other works include The Devils, recipient of the Weissberger prize and directed by Michael Wilson at the Kennedy Center in 1996; Wolf-Man; The Lover (her first project with Michael Wilson) and Phaedra. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Helen Merrill Award, Lila Wallace Foundation Writer's Award, Oppenheimer Award and Kesselring Prize. Ms. Egloff is a member of New Dramatists, Dramatists Guild and a graduate of Yale Drama School. She is married to set designer Jim Youmans.

Michael Wilson (Director) was represented on Broadway last season by the Tony Award-winning revival of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, which he also directed for television, where it will premiere on Lifetime this March.  Also on Broadway, he directed Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Dividing the Estate, Enchanted April andOld Acquaintance. Off-Broadway, he has directed numerous plays, including the three-part, nine-hour premiere of The Orphans’ Home Cycle, for which he received 2010 Drama Desk and Outer Critics CircleAwards. Internationally, he directed both parts of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America for the Venice Biennale. He has also directed at our nation’s major theaters, including Houston’s Alley Theatre (where Ether Dome premiered in 2011) and Hartford Stage, where as Artistic Director from 1998 to 2011, he commissioned Ms. Egloff to write Ether Dome.


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