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‘I Remember Mama’ opens June 23 on Stockton Civic stage

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POSTED June 11, 2010 2:38 a.m.
STOCKTON - The Stockton Civic Theatre will present a somewhat obscure but masterful piece of musical theatre by Richard Rodgers (of the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein theme) called “I Remember Mama”, from Wednesday, June 23, through Sunday, July 18.
For this, his final score, Rodgers turned to a play he and Oscar Hammerstein had produced on Broadway 35 years earlier that had gone on to become the extremely popular “I Remember Mama”, a play by John Van Druten.

Set in San Francisco following the turn of the century, this story of a Norwegian family’s survival in the New World was initially told in retrospect in the book “Mama’s Bank Account” written by the family’s eldest daughter Kathryn Forbes, a successful writer, recounting the start of her career and the childhood that inspired it. Ms. Forbes takes us back in time to relive familiar hardships and triumphs including the near loss of their home, Papa’s desperate return to Norway when he can no longer find work, and the sale of her first story-this one. But, of course, it’s Mama she remembers most of all, always guiding their precarious journey with a firm hand and a warm heart.

The play was adapted for a 1948 feature film written by Dewitt Bodeen and directed by George Stevens.

Stockton Civic Theatre regular Melissa Esau, playing the title role, says she “opened this SCT Season playing a Swede in The Producers, and am (sic) closing as a Norwegian in “Mama.” Esau is one of the best known actresses, singers and dancers on the SCT stage. She made her debut in Our Town in 1974, and last year played the part of Ulla in The Producers. She will be playing Mama in this final SCT production of the current Season. In recent years, Ms. Esau has begun exploring her interests in new areas of production such as direction and costuming, last season receiving a Willie Award for Best Direction of a Musical in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. She also received the theater’s coveted Applause Award at the 2009 Bravo event, and will be directing the theater’s 2010 holiday production of Oklahoma during the upcoming holiday season (November 16 - December 12.)
“I Remember Mama” Director Jim Coleman, who also serves as the theater’s full-time Artistic Director, directed Sweet Charity (1997), Anything Goes (2000), Guys and Dolls and South Pacific (2005) before joining the theatre staff. Mr. Coleman lived and worked in New York for 27 years. Professional Broadway credits include: musical direction for Sweeney Todd and Mame with Angela Lansbury, and Anything Goes with Patti Lupone. For the Paper Mill Playhouse and the State Theatre of New Jersey, he conducted and directed over 25 musicals and plays. Mr. Coleman has toured the country with Sweeney Todd, The Sound of Music, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and A Little Night Music, as well as conducting at the New York City Opera with Beverly Sills, and regional opera companies in the United States and China. Since becoming SCT’s Producing Director, he has directed Picnic, Cabaret, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Full Monty, Dearly Departed, Annie Get Your Gun, and The Producers.

I Remember Mama will feature a special $15 per seat preview on Wednesday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. A reception for opening night patrons will be held at the theatre on Friday, June 25 at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Performance will continue through July 18 and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $21 for seniors, and $15 for students and children 12 and under.

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