Arts » Theater

Musical Headliners

by Richard Dodds
Sunday Oct 15, 2017

And the Tony Award for best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical goes to - all three headliners in the latest Broadway @ the Herbst series. Previously based at the Nourse Theatre, the new season of concerts and conversations will star Jessie Mueller, Kelli O'Hara, and Faith Prince with pianist and Broadway raconteur Seth Rudesky taking these leading ladies through the stories and music of their careers.

Jessie Mueller, who won her Tony Award in 2014 for playing Carole King in "Beautiful," will open the series on Oct. 19. Following her run in "Beautiful," Mueller was back on Broadway in "Waitress" featuring songs by Sara Bareilles, so expect songs from those two shows as well as "Carousel." She is slated to star as Julie Jordan in a 2018 Broadway revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic.

Another R&H classic, "South Pacific" earned Kelli O'Hara a Tony Award in 2015. O'Hara will be at the Herbst Theatre on Jan. 28, and the possibilities of her repertoire run deep just among the musicals for which she was nominated for a Tony. They include "The Light in the Piazza," "The Pajama Game," "The Bridges of Madison County," and "Nice Work If You Can Get It."

Faith Prince took home her Tony Award in 1992 for her performance of Miss Adelaide in the revival of "Guys and Dolls." Coming to the Herbst on March 18, her songbook will draw from her Broadway appearances in "Falsettoland," "Little Me," "Bells Are Ringing," "A Catered Affair," and Seth Rudetsky's very own "Disaster!"

Tickets to individual performances ($50-$100) and discounted series tickets are now on sale. Call (415) 392-4400 or go to

Prince of Denmark

No, we're not talking about Hamlet here, who's currently in residence at ACT's Geary Theater, but the actor cast in the title role in "The Prince of Egypt" for TheatreWorks. Diluckshan Jeyaratnam is a Danish actor of Tamil descent, and he is playing Moses in the world premiere stage adaptation of the animated feature that opens Oct. 14 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

The 26-year-old Jeyaratnam was still a student at the Danish Academy of Musical Theatre when he was chosen by songwriter Stephen Schwartz and director (and the composer's son) Scott Schwartz for the musical after auditioning via Skype from Denmark. That may seem a faraway place to be looking for an actor to play Moses in the Silicon Valley, but the actor will be reprising the role in both English and Danish when the musical is mounted in April at the Fredericia Theatre in Denmark.

Before landing the role, Jeyaratnam was best-known as a "YouTube sensation" for his covers of pop tunes sung both in English and Tamil that he began posting in 2015. As an undergraduate, he studied design and marketing. "But after graduation, I asked myself, 'Do I really want to work as a media designer the rest of my life?' Very quickly, I realized that my passion was music," he told the Thamarai website that reports on the international Tamil community.

"To be honest, when it happened, I couldn't really understand what was happening," he said of landing the role of Moses. "I did have a long-term dream of doing something like this, but it was a dream for maybe 10 years down the road."

Dreamworks released "The Prince of Egypt" in 1998, which became the highest-grossing non-Disney animated movie at the time, and the stage version emerged after frequent requests from regional theaters and school groups to mount a theatrical version. Developed at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, where Scott Schwartz is artistic director, its first full presentation was scheduled for a free outdoor concert that was abruptly canceled last year after a controversy arose over the ethnic makeup of the cast.

"The Prince of Egypt" will run through Nov. 5. Tickets are available at (650) 463-1960, or go to

Play Makers

Two staged-reading series are starting their new seasons in the coming days: PlayGround, with six Monday-night programs at Berkeley Rep, and 3Girls Theatre Company, with eight monthly readings at the Phoenix Theatre.

PlayGround launches its season on Oct. 16 with an evening of 10-minute plays written around "In the Beginning," a topic revealed to the 36 members of its Writer Company just four days before a finished piece was due. The top six plays chosen each month inspired by a different topic receive professional script-in-hand readings, leading to full productions for those selected for the Best of Playground festival at the end of the season. Tickets at

Eight full-length plays by 3Girls Theatre's resident playwrights will receive staged readings in its Salon series, with Elizabeth Flanagan's "Harry and Maura" opening the season on Oct. 15. The play is the story of a recovering alcoholic and gambling addict who tries to pull her unstable father into a scheme to pay off her debts with what she is certain is a sure-fire bet. Tickets to the 3Girls' Salon Reading Series are free, but online registration is required at

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