After producing five acclaimed plays, one of them a world premiere, during the company's first 13 months, Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop is set to stage its first musical with the debuting Last Call: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim.
Running Friday, November 1, through Sunday, November 17 at the QC Theatre Workshop (1730 Wilkes Avenue, Davenport), Last Call is an original revue of songs featuring lyrics and/or music by the legendary Sondheim, the winner of eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for 1985's Sunday in the Park with George. Lauded for such classic works as Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, A Little Night Music, Company, and numerous others, Sondheim has been described by the New York Times as “the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theatre,” and according to Last Call's producer and music director Tyson Danner, consequently seemed like the perfect artist to celebrate in the Workshop's first musical endeavor.
“While our first season consisted entirely of plays,” says Danner, who also serves as his company's Artistic Director, “we at the Workshop have been looking forward to presenting a musical that would highlight the vast talents of Quad Cities singers. And when we had the idea of producing a revue, it only made sense to feature the songs of one of the kings of the modern musical.”
Created by Danner and director Mike Schulz, Last Call features performances of more than two dozen numbers from Sondheim's musical canon – songs ranging from Dick Tracy's Oscar-winning “Sooner or Later” to Company's well-known “Ladies Who Lunch” to the rarely heard “Take Me to the World” from the 1966 TV-movie Evening Primrose.
Yet the show also weaves its songs together in the form of a mostly dialogue-free narrative (conceived by Danner and Schulz) set in a hotel bar, with a group of spouses, lovers, friends, and strangers crossing paths, reminiscing, and falling in and out of love over the course of Last Call's 90-minute running length.
Says Danner, “It's a testament to Sondheim's brilliant songwriting that each of these numbers can be interpreted in so many ways. Out of hundreds of possibilities, we chose the songs that played to our actors' greatest strengths, and they've had a blast approaching the material in different contexts."
Featured among Last Call's cast are: Erin Churchill (Circa '21's Irving Berlin's White Christmas, the District Theatre's Avenue Q); Don Denton (Circa '21's Miracle on 34th Street and The Full Monty); Angela Elliott (the District Theatre's Company and Sweeney Todd); James Fairchild (Circa '21's Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, the District Theatre's Rent); Kim Furness (Circa '21's Southern Crossroads, the Curtainbox Theatre Company's Time Stands Still); Patrick Gimm (Playcrafters' The Trouble with Cats, the Prenzie Players' The Rover); Mark Ruebling (Quad City Music Guild's Curtains, Countryside Community Theatre's Gypsy); Allison Swanson (St. Ambrose University's alumni presentation of You Can't Take It with You, the Curtainbox's Wit); and, in her area-theatre debut, Sara Tubbs (ComedySportz's “Sketchville” ensemble).
Only Elliott, who played Barbara in the springtime comedy boom, has performed in a previous Workshop production, and Danner is thrilled to have her joined by eight area talents appearing in their first show for the company.
“This season,” Danner says, “we began holding open auditions for every production, and we were overjoyed to have such a strong turnout for Last Call. It has been a delight to work with both longtime colleagues and performers we haven't had the chance to collaborate with before.
“Each time an actor appears for the first time in a Workshop production, they bring new ideas that make the theatre more dynamic and exciting. We're sure our patrons are going to enjoy this incredible cast.”
As with the Workshop's five previous productions, Last Call will be presented under the company's popular “Pay What It's Worth” policy, which allows patrons to determine their own ticket prices following each performance.
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Last Call: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim performances
Friday, November 1, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 2, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 3, 3 p.m.
Friday, November 8, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 9, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 10, 3 p.m.
Friday, November 15, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 16, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 17, 3 p.m.
QC Theatre Workshop
1730 Wilkes Avenue, Davenport, Iowa, 52804