Eva Knott 7:03 p.m., May 17
Lamb's Players Theatre has produced 300 shows. Artistic Director Robert Smyth looks back on the 12 he felt were most important for the company.
5.) It's Christmas and It's Live! "In 1978, I asked Kerry Meads, who had written a 20 minute script, if she would write a Christmas show. We were looking for something other than you know which, and decided to do our own thing. So Kerry wrote a script set in Elizabethan England (because we had those costumes from our touring street theater). At first reading it too lasted 20 minutes. We added music and dance, and Lamb's Players Festival of Christmas went on to be a huge, 35 year hit, with Kerry writing a total of 14 scripts, all set in different times and places."
It's Christmas and It's Live!, first produced in 1990, tells the story of a TV studio snowed in on Christmas Eve. The host, a Dean Martin figure, plans a gawdy spectacular worthy of Vegas. But the only performers able to make it to the studio are an amateur quartet from the Midwest. The show goes on, but it's the spare, humble opposite of what was planned.
"I think it's the best crafted script of the bunch, and one of our audiences's favorite that we came back to three more times."
6.) Boomers (1993). Kerry Meads and Vanda Eggington wanted to write a musical tribute to their fellow Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964). They sketched out some possibilities. Smyth liked the idea so much he not only encouraged them to complete the project, "I put it in the next season! We're already selling tickets," he told them, "so hop to it!"
Boomers was the first of Lamb's in-house musical revues, along with American Rhythm and Mixtape, which will conclude a three year run at the Horton Grand Theatre in December. "It was an immediate hit with a generation and has enjoyed 12 different productions in seven different theaters, with at least 600 performances (many say that Boomers and Mixtape could go on the road, either as a touring production or a copyrighted script, and fare quite well).
7.) Till We Have Faces (1998, 1999, 2011). "A unique project for us. We were commissioned to do a stage adaptation of C.S. Lewis' brilliant retelling of the Cupid & Psyche myth, for the centennial of Lewis' birth, in England. Lewis always talked about being a dramatist, and his dialogue translates easily for the stage."
Lewis' sweeping tale asks, "how can we face the deity face to face until we have faces? Till we see ourselves for who we are."
The adaptation drew raves when performed at Oxford, and later at Cambridge, and when produced at Lamb's Coronado Theatre, where Deborah Gilmour Smyth played the lead like a female Lear.
8.) A Joyful Noise (1999). Lamb's staged the world premiere of Tim Slover's drama about the making of - and the scandal behind - Handel's Messiah. Slover had been invited to take part in Lamb's PlayWork script development program, Smyth was so impressed he added it to the next season.
"The success took us by surprise. People were startled by the story - that Handel was burned out, had fallen out of favor, and the scandal nearly prevented the world from ever hearing the piece. A huge hit in San Diego, we followed that with an extended run Off-Broadway."