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September 7 – October 22, 2017
(Opening night: Friday, September 15)
Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage
Old Globe Theatre
Conrad Prebys Theatre Center
A New Musical
Book by Kirsten Guenther
Music by Nolan Gasser
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Based on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture written by Barry Berman and Leslie McNeil
Directed by Jack Cummings III
A delightful world premiere musical based on the beloved offbeat ’90s romantic comedy movie. As Joon’s sole caretaker, auto mechanic Benny makes sure his eccentric sister lives a comfortable, safe, and predictable life. But when Sam shows up, his off-kilter take on the world—full of classic films, Buster Keaton, and an oddball approach to domestic life—turns everything upside down. With unforgettable characters and a beguiling and tuneful score, Benny & Joon explores what happens when we step out of our comfort zones and take a leap toward love.
Nikki and Ben Clay
Hal and Pam Fuson
Artist Sponsor for Jack Cummings III (Director)
Sandra and Arthur Levinson
Artist Sponsor for Nolan Gasser (Composer)
Mandell Weiss Charitable Trust
Kirsten Guenther (Book) previously lived in Paris, where she worked as a Paris correspondent for USATODAY.com and penned the popular weekly column “The Sexy Expat,” about an American journalist trying to navigate and date the French. Her current theatre commissions include The Years Between (T. Fellowship) and the new musical Measure of Success (The Rockefeller Foundation Grant). Ms. Guenther wrote the book and lyrics for Little Miss Fix-It (as seen on NBC) and the book for Mrs. Sharp (Richard Rodgers Award for the Playwrights Horizons workshop starring Jane Krakowski, directed by Michael Greif). She penned the books to Out of My Head (licensed by Steele Spring Stage Rights) and The Cable Car Nymphomaniac (Bay Area Theatre Award nomination). Ms. Guenther is the recipient of a Johnny Mercer Writers Fellowship, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, and a Lincoln Center Honorarium. She has penned sketches for personalities such as James Franco, Jared Leto, Christopher Walken, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Steve Buscemi, Kathie Lee and Hoda, and others. She holds a B.F.A. in Acting from USC and an M.F.A. from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at New York University.
Nolan Gasser (Music) is a critically acclaimed composer, pianist, and musicologist. He is most notably the architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project and the company’s chief musicologist from its founding in 1999. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Stanford University. His original compositions have been performed in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Salle Pleyel in Paris, and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, among many others. His theatrical projects beyond Benny & Joon include the opera The Secret Garden, commissioned by San Francisco Opera (2013); the oratorio Repast: An Oratorio on the Life of Booker Wright (2015); and the musical Start Me Up, in development. Dr. Gasser’s forthcoming book, Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste, will be released in 2018 (Flatiron Books – Macmillan Publishers). He is also the subject of a documentary for the ESPN FiveThirtyEight series The Collectors entitled “Breaking Music Down to Its Genes” (2015). The film highlights his forthcoming work with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to pilot an algorithm to provide personalized musical therapy for cancer patients. Dr. Gasser’s TEDx Talk, “Empowering Your Musical Taste,” is available on YouTube.
Mindi Dickstein (Lyrics) is a lyricist, librettist, and playwright. She wrote the lyrics for the Broadway musical Little Women (licensed by Music Theatre International, original cast album released by Sh-K-Boom & Ghostlight Records). Her work on Benny & Joon, showcased in the 2016 National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival of New Musicals, was developed in part at Running Deer Musical Theatre Lab, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, and Transport Group. Her current projects include Snow in August (based on the Pete Hamill novel), which had a developmental reading at Second Stage in June; and Alight Arise Return, developed at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and Lark Play Development Center. Her other musicals include Disney’s Toy Story: The Musical, for which she wrote the book; and Trip (Playwrights Horizons Steinberg Charitable Trust Commission), Notes Across a Small Pond (Bridewell Theatre), and Beasts and Saints (Boston Music Theatre Project, ASCAP Foundation Workshop), for which she wrote book and lyrics. Her short play Starving to Death in Midtown was produced worldwide as part of the 2015 Climate Change Theatre Action. Her songs have been performed widely, including at Lincoln Center’s Hear and Now: Contemporary Lyricists. Ms. Dickstein’s honors include a Jonathan Larson Award, a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, and two New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Fellowships. She received her M.F.A. from and is currently on the faculty of New York University’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.
Jack Cummings III (Director) is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Transport Group, where he most recently directed William Inge’s Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba in rotating repertory. His favorite Transport Group credits include Queen of the Mist by Michael John LaChiusa (world premiere); See Rock City & Other Destinations by Brad Alexander and Adam Mathias (New York premiere); The Audience (conceiver, world premiere); cul-de-sac by John Cariani (world premiere); Normal by Yvonne Adrian, Tom Kochan, and Cheryl Stern (world premiere); Marcy in the Galaxy by Nancy Shayne (world premiere); and Three Days to See (author/conceiver, world premiere); as well as revivals of I Remember Mama; Hello Again; First Lady Suite; Once Upon a Mattress; Almost, Maine; The Dark at the Top of the Stairs; The Boys in the Band; All the Way Home; and Our Town. His other New York credits include the world premiere of Terrence McNally’s And Away We Go (The Pearl Theatre Company), 1,000 Words Come to Mind by Michele Lowe and Scott Richards (Inner Voices Theatre, world premiere), and Arlington by Polly Pen and Victor Lodato (Inner Voices Theatre, world premiere). His regional credits include I Remember Mama (Two River Theater), A Streetcar Named Desire (Gretna Theatre), Violet and The Young Man from Atlanta (Barksdale Theatre), and The Illusion (Nevada Theatre Company). He received his B.A. in International Relations from William and Mary and his M.F.A. in Directing from University of Virginia. He is married to actress Barbara Walsh.
Scott Rink (Choreographer) choreographed the Off Broadway productions of Once Upon a Mattress, Three Days to See, Queen of the Mist, Hello Again, Being Audrey, Crossing Brooklyn, Songs for a New World, and Normal. Mr. Rink’s regional credits include Carnaval de Fuego (Six Flags Elitch Gardens), Alice in Wonderland (Birmingham Children’s Theatre), Disney’s Mulan (Imagination Stage), and Seussical (Wagner College). His commissioned works include dances for Ailey II, ABT II, Oakland Ballet Company, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Repertory Dance Theatre, The Ailey School, Harvard University, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and University of Minnesota, among others. Mr. Rink has created a number of works for his company danceRINK in New York City and abroad. As a dancer, Mr. Rink performed in the companies of Eliot Feld, Elisa Monte, Karole Armitage, and Lar Lubovitch.
Dane Laffrey (Scenic and Costume Design) previously designed sets for The Old Globe’s production of The Few. His Broadway credits include set and costumes for Deaf West’s Spring Awakening, set for Fool for Love,and sets for this season’s revival of Once on This Island at Circle in the Square Theatre. His recent Off Broadway credits include sets and/or costumes for Rancho Viejo, Indian Summer, The Christians, and Iowa (Playwrights Horizons), Sell/Buy/Date (Manhattan Theatre Club), Homos, or Everyone in America (Labyrinth Theater Company), Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba (Transport Group), The Harvest (Lincoln Center Theater), The Glory of the World (Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater), Cloud Nine (Atlantic Theater Company), and other work at Roundabout Theatre Company, Second Stage Theatre, Vineyard Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, MCC Theater, Soho Rep., Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Transport Group, and many others. Mr. Laffrey’s regional work includes the Humana Festival, Mark Taper Forum, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Huntington Theatre Company, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Goodspeed Musicals, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Baltimore Center Stage, Studio Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, New York Stage and Film, and others. He has also designed internationally in Tokyo, Oslo, Osaka, and throughout Australia. Mr. Laffrey won a 2017 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Set and Costume Design, and he has been nominated for a Drama Desk Award and four Henry Hewes Design Awards, along with numerous regional accolades.
R. Lee Kennedy (Lighting Design) is the resident lighting designer for New York City-based Transport Group, and he has designed their Off Broadway productions of Inge in Rep: Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba; Once Upon a Mattress; Three Days to See; I Remember Mama (Henry Hewes Design Award nomination); Almost, Maine; Queen of the Mist (Hewes nomination); Hello Again; See Rock City (Drama Desk Award nomination); Bury the Dead (Drama Desk nomination); Marcy in the Galaxy; The Dark at the Top of the Stairs; Normal; The Audience (Drama Desk nomination); First Lady Suite; Requiem for William; Our Town;and the world premiere play And Away We Go by Terrence McNally, produced by The Pearl Theatre Company. His regional credits include The Light in the Piazza (Barrymore Award) and The Outgoing Tide (Barrymore nomination) (Philadelphia Theatre Company), Cake Off (Signature Theatre Company), and I Remember Mama (Two River Theater), as well as Illinois Shakespeare Festival’s 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2011 repertory seasons. Mr. Kennedy has designed national tours of The Secret Garden (Joseph Jefferson Award Citation), Once on This Island, Five Guys Named Moe, and A Grand Night for Singing. He heads the M.F.A. Lighting Design program at the University of Virginia.
Kai Harada (Sound Design) designed the Broadway productions of Amélie, Sunday in the Park with George, Allegiance, Gigi, Fun Home, On the Town, First Date, Follies (Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations), and Million Dollar Quartet. His other credits include Poster Boy (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Beaches (Drury Lane Theatre), Brooklynite (Vineyard Theatre), Little Dancer and First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb (The Kennedy Center), Zorro (Moscow, Atlanta), Hinterm Horizont (Berlin), Sweeney Todd and The Pirates of Penzance (Portland Opera), and She Loves Me (Oregon Shakespeare Festival). He was also the audio consultant for the Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He attended Yale University.
Michael Starobin (Orchestrations) previously orchestrated In Your Arms at The Old Globe. His credits include Sunday in the Park with George, Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing, Freaky Friday, Kid Victory, Falsettos, First Daughter Suite, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, If/Then, Annie, Dogfight, Leap of Faith, Queen of the Mist, The People in the Picture, Sondheim on Sondheim, Next to Normal (Tony Award), The Glorious Ones, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Adrift in Macao, Bernarda Alba, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Assassins (Tony Award), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A New Brain, A Christmas Carol, Hello Again, Guys and Dolls (1992), My Favorite Year, In Trousers, Once on This Island, Closer Than Ever, Legs Diamond, Romance/Romance, Carrie, Birds of Paradise, Rags, Three Guys Naked, and Von Richthofen. His film credits include The Hunchback of Notre Dame, A Goofy Movie, Life with Mikey, Home on the Range, Tangled, Lucky Stiff, and Beauty and the Beast (2017).
J. Oconer Navarro (Music Director) previously served as music director of The Old Globe’s Rain. He recently penned new arrangements for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,currently playing at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His select New York credits include Adding Machine, Curtains, First Daughter Suite, The House of Blue Leaves, Iowa, Mary Poppins, We the People, and seven seasons with Lincoln Center Theater. His regional credits include Barrington Stage Company, Hangar Theatre, The Kennedy Center, New York Stage and Film, three national tours for Theatreworks USA, and Two River Theater. He is part of the founding faculty of New Studio on Broadway at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, as well as the Musical Theatre Conservatory at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and he is music supervisor at Camp Broadway. He is also a composer, lyricist, and writer whose works have been seen Off Broadway. In addition, he is the resident composer for The Church of Saint Paul the Apostle in New York and is a recipient of an American Theatre Wing Jonathan Larson Grant. joconernavarro.com, @joconernavarro on Instagram.
Howie Cherpakov, CSA (Casting) is thrilled to return to The Old Globe after casting their productions of October Sky and Bright Star (Artios Award nomination). His Broadway and national tour credits include Bright Star, Next Fall (Artios nomination), The Seafarer, Coram Boy, Chicago, Annie Get Your Gun, Dirty Dancing, and South Pacific. Off Broadway and regionally he has cast productions for Lincoln Center Theater, Women’s Project Theater, New York Stage and Film/Powerhouse Theater (Artios nomination for The Power of Duff), Atlantic Theater Company, Naked Angels (Artios Award for Fault Lines), Pasadena Playhouse, Irish Arts Center, Soho Theatre in London, American Theater Group, and New York Musical Festival, among many others. He is a member of the Casting Society of America. hccasting.com.
Anjee Nero (Production Stage Manager) has previously worked on the Globe productions of King Richard II; Picasso at the Lapin Agile; October Sky; Kiss Me, Kate; The Twenty-seventh Man; Bright Star; Dog and Pony; The Winter’s Tale; Be a Good Little Widow; Allegiance; A Room with a View; Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show; The Savannah Disputation; Kingdom;and the 2007 Shakespeare Festival. Ms. Nero also worked on the Broadway production of Bright Star and will soon be launching the show’s tour. Her selected La Jolla Playhouse credits include Sideways directed by Des McAnuff, Ruined directed by Liesl Tommy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Christopher Ashley, and Herringbone directed by Roger Rees and starring BD Wong. Ms. Nero has worked with several prominent regional theatres including The Kennedy Center, Hartford Stage, Center Theatre Group, SITI Company, Huntington Theatre Company, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, to name a few. Her other selected credits include Schick Machine (Paul Dresher Ensemble), which toured both nationally and internationally, and Garden of Forbidden Loves and Garden of Deadly Sound (IMAGOmoves), which performed at the International Hungarian Theatre Festival in Cluj, Romania.
Amanda Salmons (Assistant Stage Manager, Stage Manager) has previously worked at The Old Globe on King Richard II; The Blameless; Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!; October Sky; Macbeth; Rain; The Metromaniacs; Kiss Me, Kate; The White Snake; The Two Gentlemen of Verona; Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; The Last Goodbye; Globe for All (2014, 2015); the Summer Shakespeare Festival (2011–2013); Somewhere; Lost in Yonkers; I Do! I Do!; and The Price.Her other credits include Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin (La Jolla Playhouse), Kiss Me, Kate (Hartford Stage), The Foreigner, miXtape, See How They Run, The Music Man,and The Rivalry (Lamb’s Players Theatre), The Gondoliers, The Pirates of Penzance, Candide, and Trial by Jury (Lyric Opera San Diego), and SummerFest (La Jolla Music Society). She received her B.A. in Theatre from UC San Diego.
Kendra Stockton (Assistant Stage Manager) previously worked at The Old Globe as an assistant stage manager on October Sky, Bright Star,and Dog and Pony, as well as a production assistant on Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Few, and the 2013 Shakespeare Festival. She stage managed La Jolla Playhouse’s 2017 POP Tour, #SuperShinySara, and has assistant stage managed their productions of Guards at the Taj, The Orphan of Zhao,and The Who & The What. Her additional production assistant credits include Sideways, A Lonely Boy’s Guide to Survival (And Werewolves), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Memphis (La Jolla Playhouse) and Godspell and Memphis (Broadway).