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La Jolla Playhouse's "Song" Is Definitely One Worth Singing

Julie Johnson (in red) adds color to "Chasing the Song."
Julie Johnson (in red) adds color to "Chasing the Song."

There's a lot of great partnerships in the musical theatre. Rogers & Hamerstein. Kander & Ebb. And, now Joe DiPietro and David Bryan can easily add to their names to that elite list.

They have already wowed audiences with Tony winning "Memphis" and the off-Broadway (and hear going to Broadway) "The Toxic Avenger."

Now they are part of the Page to the Stage showcase at La Jolla Playhouse with "Chasing the Song," playing through June 15.

The best thing about the Page to Stage performances is oftentimes after the show, different people involved in the production get the audiences feedback so they can improve the show and hopefully take it on the road in the dream of landing on Broadway.

In the hands of La Jolla, director Christopher Ashley and choreographer Sergio Trujillo as well as DiPietro and Bryan, they don't scrimp much in bringing this production to life.

While, as expected, sets are minimal, but the professionals behind the scenes make the professionals on the stage pop with character, excitement and give a wonderful cast a chance to shine, which also would look good to any potential backer.

"Song" is a great companion piece to the team's earlier "Memphis," in which elements of musical history are mixed in with fictionalized characters and plots. This show takes place in the Brill Building in New York in the early 1960s. The Brill was known for housing several companies that had songwriting partners who would work the hits to be recorded by the likes of Frankie Avalon and Lesley Gore.

Our story follows hard as knocks Edie who needs to be tough in a man's world. She started her own company of songwriters and while she has had a successful career, the hits are fewer and far between mostly due to singer/songwriters coming on the scene and writing their own material, including the Beatles.

While this is not a show that is to be reviewed, you can already see a hit here as "Chasing the Song" has great bones and a lot of catching songs.

I was more than surprised what a full-on production this is when its still in its early stages of development. Ashley's direction is tight and well staged and Trujillo once again proves he's a master of dance moves as he keeps the show jumping.

These early productions also may not be set with a cast yet to take the show further. It's still early in the process and likely it will change (somewhat) while on the road looking for backers and a following.

Still, Julie Johnson in the lead role is one person I hope sticks with it. She's smart, funny and has a big voice and her presence commands attention - much like that of a female boss in the 1960s would. If scheduling or other obstacles stop her from being in the show, I would love to see her in the Ethel Merman story.

Also, whether he remains in the show (and perhaps they can expand his role like they did with recent Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart when he was in "Memphis") but Jonny Wexler has a lot of chasm - and boy can he dance. Please take notice.

"Chasing the Song" is a perfect show to see in development so that, in time, you can see the finished product on the Broadway stage. Right now, they are mixing ingredients to come up with the right recipe, but it's already plenty tasty.

It closes June 15 so get tickets and more information at June 11 and June 14 will have an Insider Event before the show offering some history in making the production.

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