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Chasing The Song’ Has Its ‘Concert Reading’ Friday And Saturday

Musical Is Part Of The DNA New Works Series

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with La Jolla Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley about the DNA New Works Series.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with La Jolla Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley about the DNA New Works Series.


The La Jolla Playhouse has long supported new play development with its Page to Stage program. Now they expand that support with the DNA New Works Series. The Playhouse's artistic director Christopher Ashley explains what audiences can expect.

"We have this urgent need to develop lays from the ground up," says La Jolla Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley, "We found that as we began to commission artists that they needed to hear their play for the first time, they needed to hear it read, they needed to hear actors speaking the words. So the DNA Series is seeing a play in a very early stage of development, often it is the first time words have ever been said, it is the first time audiences have ever taken a peek."

A musical play can take ten years to fully evolve. That's how long it took "Memphis" to come together. Now the team that created that hit musical is working on another. Chasing the Song is set in the world of 60s pop music, It's also one of the plays being developed through the Playhouse's DNA New Works Series. Christopher Ashley is again directing from a book by Joe DiPietro and music by David Bryan. But even veterans like them can benefit from the DNA process of workshops, rehearsals, and public performances says Ashley.

"Every play is different and no one figures it all out. So a really experienced playwright can guess some of what an audience is going to feel but everybody needs to hear their play for the first time, every playwright needs to meet an audience for the first time."

DNA provides a chance for artists to fine tune new work.

At the rehearsal of "Chasing the Song," Ashley announces to his cast: "We are radically changing the story of our musical Edie and Ginny are actually going to be mother and daughter."

"We're doing massive rewrites of this show as it happens," explains Ashley, "Joe I think wrote 70 pages of rewrites and almost every song has been radically adjusted today. One of the great things about DNA is it doesn't have to be ready yet what it has to be is promising. So what you are going to watch is bare bones creation of a new play or a new musical, and you are really getting to look behind the curtain at how a new show gets made. And I think it's a fascinating process and a lot of our audience members have said I want to see behind the curtain, I want to see the process, I want to touch the art, I want to meet the artist, I want to be part of that show getting made."

Audiences can get a first glimpse of Chasing the Song this Friday and Saturday night at the Playhouse's Potiker Theater. It's what Ashley calls a "concert reading" as opposed to a fully staged production.


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