South Coast Rep is hoping to expand its musical repertoire with shows like 'Cloudlands'
Musicals, however, are another matter. Neither the Costa Mesa theater's full productions nor its new-works programs have featured a lot of song and dance. "We've done the occasional show over the years," says associate artistic director John Glore. "But we're not interested in typical Broadway fare."
Recently, SCR has been working to develop more musicals it is interested in by using an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to commission pieces that, Glore says "have the same values we hew to in our straight plays: high literary content, a strong sense of theatricality and serious themes engaged in interesting ways."
This Sunday, South Coast will present the first public reading of one such creation, Octavio Solis and Adam Gwon's "Cloudlands," as part of its 14th annual Pacific Playwrights Festival. It tells the story of a San Francisco teenager who discovers her mother is having an affair and decides to follow her mother's lover, ensnaring herself and her family in a tangle of dangerous secrets.
Glore says the show "ultimately has a lot of sadness in it but a lot of humor as well. It explores the mysteries of the human heart and the ways that desire can lead to transgressions of various kinds."
Besides "Cloudlands," projects the grant is helping to launch include an adaptation of Bridget Carpenter's "Fall" by Carpenter and singer-songwriter Nellie McKay and a joint venture between Culture Clash and singer-composer-violinist Gingger Shankar.
Glore, who calls "Cloudlands" a strong contender for a production at SCR, hopes these combinations of artists and projects will generate the creative combustion that South Coast seeks. "We're saying, 'Let's not think traditionally,' " he says. " 'Let's do musicals that follow our artistic impulses.' "
Read more about the story behind Solis and Gwon's "Cloudlands" in Sunday's Arts & Books.
Photo: Playwright Octavio Solis (right) and composer Adam Gwon at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, take a breather before going over some of the work in their new musical "Cloudlands." Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.