L to R: Samantha Marcella, Lisa Morrice, Steve Josephson. Photo credit: Luann Pirilo
A world premiere production for the stage from one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, Ray Bradbury, has just opened at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena. But it debuted with a slightly different name and in a somewhat different format than first announced.
Ray Bradbury’s Wisdom 2116, as it is now called, is an original, sweet-natured musical about a long-married couple who secretly have robotic replicas made of their younger selves to give each other as Christmas gifts – and as company against the impending, inevitable loneliness of widowhood. But what each of them has had created doesn’t necessarily align with what their spouse wants, and so, even after decades of marriage (and with some comical complications thrown in) this man and wife make new and unexpected discoveries about themselves and the way life works.
Originally billed as Ray Bradbury’s Wisdom, the evening had been set up to include two original pieces written by Bradbury: a play, Wisdom (1916), concerned an elderly man’s visit to his grandson and his companion, and 2116, the above-mentioned android musical. (See my earlier story on Ray Bradbury’s Wisdom.)
Adding to the name game mash-up is the fact that Ray Bradbury’s Wisdom 2116 actually previewed last fall under the title Ray Bradbury’s Merry Christmas 2116. This current engagement marks the musical’s official world premiere.
In order to keep the evening to a more manageable length and to allow each piece to individually shine, it was decided to postpone the play to a later, as yet undetermined, date, and to premiere the short musical on its own.
Variety calls Ray Bradbury’s Wisdom 2116 a “sweet fable” and praises composer John Hoke’s “ravishing principle waltz, and explorations with more modern styles, (which) mesh nicely with Bradbury’s naively charming lyrics.” (Click www.Plays411.com/raybradbury to listen to a waltz exerpt.) Dance, masks and puppetry are key elements in this charming piece that Broadwayworld.com/Los Angeles likens to “a lovely European cirque or ballet.” In fact, says the site, “it echoes a sweetness unlike any other and because of a richly talented creative team Wisdom 2116 becomes the most endearing, artful entry into Bradbury's theatrical collection.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Ray Bradbury’s Wisdom 2116, produced by Ray Bradbury and Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners, and presented by Ray Bradbury’s Pandemonium Theatre Company and Gallimaufry Performing Arts at the Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena. Opened Jan. 16, runs thru Feb. 27. Performances: Fri. and Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 3pm. Tickets: $20 general, $15 seniors, $10 students. Reservations: 323/960-4451 and www.Plays411.com/raybradbury. Running time: approx. 50 minutes.