Singer Songwriter Greg Wood and writer Neil Scanlan come to us by way of the advertising world of the 1970’s where they met and worked in the creative and market research departments at a firm in Dallas, Texas. They came together to write and develop works which eventually became the original musical “Mary of The Avenue” which will play for six performances at Fremont Centre Theatre August 17 through August 26.
Scanlan’s story is about a young woman’s search for her mother who abandoned her as a child. She finds a clue that tells her she might find her in New York City so she embarks on a journey from Nebraska through the streets of New York where she meets an array of characters from a typical politician of a mayor to a band of homeless folks. She begins to unlock some of the mysteries of her past and although the answers may not be what she expected, the journey brings insight, compassion and discovery.
Wood, who composed all the music, tells us, “the tapestry of the play is set in mid-winter New York City so there are themes of the cold and survival so while it’s a very serious subject and very poignant, there are lighthearted aspects to it. The characters are endearing and the songs are both funny and poignant.”
The show premiered at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood in 2013 and has enjoyed several productions leading up to this current production at Fremont Centre Theatre where most of the original cast is intact.
The show is set in the present day so Wood says “each time the show gets a little bit different; we’ve actually added a character this time and for the last production we added two new songs. It’s grown and I’m ever more proud of it.”
He explains that the music is of the classic musical theatre era saying “it’s not trying to be modern; it’s very melodic and the songs fit the characters and the story. There’s an inspirational song called, “Five Minutes of Sunshine” that’s a metaphor for people as well but Mary sings it about her plants and it’s become our curtain call song and it’s one you walk out humming.” The production boasts an extraordinary pianist on stage, Doug Livingston, who has graced the show in every production and produces and arranges all of Wood’s music.
Wood says the themes of the show are “very relevant to the times we are living in and I think the show is very sensitive to the real problems we face. It is certainly wrapped in some lightheartedness but it touches on some aspects of being homeless, including mental problems and their overall plight. I think the play shows that there are a lot of characters and personalities everywhere including the homeless who are making the best of their situation.”
Mary of the Avenue has a compelling story to tell through good, old fashioned musical theatre for the whole family. The show has a six show run beginning August 17 through August 26 at Fremont Centre Theatre located at 1000 Fremont Avenue in South Pasadena, California.
Show dates: 8/17 & 8/18 at 8:00 pm; 8/19 at 2:00 pm
8/24 & 8/25 at 8:00 pm; 8/26 at 2:00 pm
TICKETS: $20.00 at brownpapertickets.com or $25.00 at the door