42nd Street Moon, the company that presents intimate productions of uncommon musicals, concludes its 2011-12 season with a journey to Greece and Crete for the Kander and Ebb classic, ZORBA. Based on the book Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, this musical is a salute to the spirit of Greece, where Zorba celebrates life, but also lost love, heartbreak and death. Opening is tonight, Saturday May 5 at 6 pm. The show will run through May 20.
The musical premiered on Broadway in 1968, in a production directed by Harold Prince, with a book by Joseph Stein, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical. A Broadway revival in 1983 starred Anthony Quinn and Lila Kedrova in their original film roles. Artistic Director Greg MacKellan will take the helm for 42nd Street Moon’s production.
“Nikos Kanzantzakis’ Zorba the Greek is a one of the great literary characters of the 20th century,” said MacKellan. “The Oscar-winning film is a classic, but not as many know the musical. It’s a terrific show. Joseph Stein’s passionate, wise and funny script matches Kander and Ebb’s brilliant, bouzouki-flavored score. We’ve wanted to do Zorba for a long time, and are thrilled that we finally have the chance.”
The score from the composer and lyricist of Cabaret, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman includes “Life Is,” “The Butterfly,” “Only Love,” “Why Can’t I Speak,” and “I Am Free.” Book writer Joseph Stein’s credits include Fiddler on the Roof, Take Me Along and Enter Laughing.
The story focuses on the friendship that evolves between the boisterous and mysterious vagabond Alexis Zorba and Niko, a young Greek professor who has inherited an abandoned mine on Crete. Through their friendship and respective romances with a widow and a French courtesan, Zorba teaches Niko to escape his bookish life and become truly free.
Michael Stevenson makes his 42nd Street Moon debut in the title role. A co-director of the B. Street Theatre Conservatory in Sacramento, he has appeared with the Ground Floor Theater Lab, Sanford Meisner Theatre, and St. Clements Theatre in New York. His regional credits include The American Conservatory Theatre, B Street Theatre, Cowell Theatre, Foothill Theatre Company, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespearean Festival, among others.
Ian Leonard, also in his 42nd Street Moon debut, portrays Niko. He was seen most recently in the Diablo Theatre Company’s production of Legally Blonde The Musical, and has performed in several TheatreWorks Productions including the World Premiere of My Antonia, A Christmas Memory, A Civil War Christmas, and Jane Eyre. He has also appeared with American Musical Theatre San Jose and played Rolf in the Asian tour of The Sound of Music.
Alexandra Kaprielian, star of many Moon shows including Nymph Errant, Very Warm for May and The Golden Apple, co-stars as the Leader - the storyteller in the bouzouki circle who sets the tale in motion. 42nd Street Moon’s Producing Director, Stephanie Rhoads (seen last spring in Strike Up the Band) stars as Mme. Hortense, an aging courtesan who has a romance with Zorba. Teressa Byrne plays the withdrawn, beautiful widow whose relationship with Niko ends tragically.