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Gone West, Young Women

March 28, 2008 - Phyllis Sigal
A couple of local talents are performing on the West Coast these days in two world premieres.

Ashley Yeater of Moundsville, who has been featured in the pages of our newspaper over the years, is dancing in "Dancing in the Dark," which had its world premiere at the Old Globe theater in San Diego, Calif.

It opened in early March and was set to close April 13, but was extended for one more week, through April 20.

Actor Scott Bakula, known for his roles in "Quantum Leap" and "American Beauty," plays the lead role of Tony Hunter, a Hollywood star with a career on the wane. He teams up with a Shakespearean actor-manager, to create a new musical.

The show is written by Douglas Carter Beane (who also wrote the Broadway shows, "Xanadu" and "The Little Dog Laughed" and is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC — where my son goes to school!) It's based on the classic MGM movie, "The Band Wagon."

Yeater has been featured in the touring productions of "Cats" and "Chicago," had the lead in "Footloose and performed on Broadway in "The Producers."

She's hoping that "Dancin' in the Dark" makes its way back to NYC, on Broadway, although "Variety" was not too kind to the show.

But, the Orange County Register had this to say: "You've got a winner on your hands. Beane, a master at making something tired and old delightfully new – his musical 'Xanadu' succeeded by celebrating and transcending the awfulness of the 1980 roller-disco film – chooses a more worthwhile cinematic inspiration here, and treats it with affection, respect, and nary a touch of mockery."

Ashley said the show is a "dancer's dream." I do hope she dances east with the new show!

Also out west is Michelle Duffy, a graduate of Wheeling Park High School, who is starring in the world premiere of "Mask," a musical version of "an unusual looking boy and his unconventional biker mother."

Duffy plays the biker mom. It opened March 14 at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, Calif. Cher played the biker mom in the movie. It, too, has not gotten the most favorable of reviews, unfortunately.

The music is by Barry Mann while the lyrics are by Cynthia Weil, "one of the most successful songwriting teams in history," according to the theater Web site. Also, Tony Award-winner Richard Maltby Jr. (creator/director of "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Fosse") is the show's director. Maltby also was a consultant to the first-ever youth production of "Miss Saigon" at Stagedoor Manor in the Catskills of New York, in which my son played John. Maltby co-wrote the lyrics for that popular show.

Small theater world, this is ...

Break a leg to these fine, young performers! And maybe some day, they'll all come together on one stage!


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