LOS ANGELES (August 19, 2015) — What are the songs of birds and men? 24th STreet Theatre, the company that produced Walking the Tightrope to universal acclaim on its stage, on tour and, most recently, for CTG at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, presents the second production of its LAb24 resident experimental theater company. The U.S. premiere of Man Covets Bird by Finegan Kruckemeyer opens on September 26 at 24th Street Theatre in downtown L.A. A man befriends a fallen bird, and together they confront life. Once again, 24th Street artistic director Debbie Devine transforms a deceptively simple tale into a compelling, poignant and humorous theatrical experience.Man Covets Bird, starring Andrew Huber andLeeav Sofer, is an irresistible mix of storytelling, live music and animation that will enchant kids – and deeply touch their parents. “Birdsong when you least expect it,” thrills the man (Huber).
“This is a piece that is kid-friendly, yet filled with profundity – about adolescence, the transition to adulthood, loss of youth and the true meaning of love,” says 24th Street executive director Jay McAdams. “It’s important to present children with sophisticated work that digs deeply. This kind of theater is rarely available to families in this country. We live in a culture that doesn’t believe in challenging kids emotionally.”
“The underlying theme of this production is that you can't help whom you fall in love with,” Devine explains. “If you can summon the courage to share that secret, your ‘song’ can change the world around you.”
24th STreet Theatre’s driving vision is the creation of a national conversation about how to move theater for young audiences forward with groundbreaking, serious work. That dialogue was kick-started with Walking the Tightrope(Los Angeles Times “Critic's Choice,” numerous "Best of 2013" lists and winner, 2013 award for Outstanding Production from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle). Now, the discussion continues with Man Covets Bird.
“Our fictional children are not allowed to face the hurdles and heartaches – the sadnesses – that their real life contemporaries (so importantly) do,” wrote Kruckemeyer in an article. “A tragic circumstance can in a narrative journey be quite the opposite of a negative: it can in fact be a call to arms.”
Inspired by John Lurie’s painting of the same title, Man Covets Bird was commissioned by Australian theater company Slingsby from a concept by Andy Packer. The first performance took place at the Space Theatre as part of the 2010 Adelaide Festival of Arts. Kruckemeyer’s play was the recipient of the 2010 Ruby Award for Best New Work and the 2010 Adelaide Theatre Guild Award for Best Show. It has since been produced at the Sydney Opera House; the Arts Centre, Melbourne; and the Country Arts SA Regional Festival and Conference in Goolwa. The Sunday Mail lauded it as “family theater with a depth that speaks to any generation.”
Original music for the 24th STreet Theatre production is composed by Leeav Sofer and performed live by Leaav Sofer and Andrew Huber; video projections and animation are by Matthew Hill; lighting design is by Dan Weingarten; sound design is by Cricket S. Myers; casting is by Michael Donovan, CSA; and the production stage manager is Alexx Zachary. The production is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Finegan Kruckemeyer has had 54 commissioned plays performed on five continents. This year, 20 of his works will be seen in Argentina, Australia, China, England, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, and in the U.S. at New Visions New Voices (JFK Center for the Arts, Washington), New Plays for Young Audiences (NYU) and the IPAY Showcase (his fourth consecutive work). The Australian playwright was an inaugural recipient of the $160,000 Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship, and has received at least one writing award each year since 2006. He has spoken at conferences/festivals around the world about writing for young audiences.
Debbie Devine is a multiple award-winning theater director and the co-founder/artistic director of 24th STreet Theatre. Named “one of Los Angeles’ most fascinating people” in the LA Weekly People 2012 issue, Debbie has been a respected leader in the field of arts education for over three decades. She has held the position of Drama Department Chair of Colburn School for over 20 years and is also a theatrical director with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Debbie’s work has earned her three Drama-Logue Awards, two LA Weekly Awards (including “Best Direction” for Walking the Tightrope), a Robby Award, LA Parent magazine’s Best Westside Children’s Theatre Award and the Women In Theatre Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Los Angeles Theater. She earned the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s Professional Designation in Arts Education, is the recipient of the USC Rossier School of Education’s Innovation and Leadership Award, and won Los Angeles County Music Center’s 2001 Bravo Special Mention for her work in arts education. She is also the proud recipient of the 2011 Inspiring Women Award, presented by the L.A. Sparks and Farmers Insurance.
Andrew Huber’s theater credits include Big Fish (Musical Theatre West), The Full Monty and Reefer Madness(Monroe Theater, NY), Footloose!, Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night (Adams Playhouse, NY), Angels in America and Some Girls (Spiegel Theater, NY), and King Lear (Long Beach Shakspeare Co.). He has been seen on TV in Days of Our Lives and Hart of Dixie. He has a BFA from Hofstra University.
Leeav Sofer is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer/arranger, music director and teaching artist who has performed at venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Ford Amphitheatre, as well as singing backup at the Staples Center with the Rolling Stones for their 2013 tour. He is currently on the faculty at Colburn School in Los Angeles. Under the auspice of Colburn, Leeav initiated music programs to culturally elevate the surrounding communities that have led to recognition on the front page of the Los Angeles Times as well as on NPR’s All Things Considered. In addition to co-founding L.A.’s only current Jewish Youth Orchestra, he also leads the band Mostly Kosher, dedicated to preserving and progressing cultural folk music of the Judaic heritage for future generations.
24th Street Theatre is a leader in arts education and community outreach while also presenting quality professional theater for young and old alike. Using art as a tool to positively impact the world around them, 24th STreet’s programming includes free after school enrichment programs, Teatro Nuevo Latino Initiative projects, a music series, outreach programs for at-risk teens, free community events, professional development programs for teachers, arts-ed school workshops, gallery exhibits and international touring in addition to critically acclaimed season productions geared for both adult and family audiences.
Man Covets Bird opens for press on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m., continuing through Nov. 22 on Saturdaysat 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. (dark Oct. 24 – Nov. 1). Four preview performances take place on Sept. 19 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 20 at 3 p.m.; and Saturday, Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $24 for adults; $10 for kids under 16; $15 for students, seniors and teachers; and $2.40 for residents of the theater’s surrounding North University Park neighborhood. 24th Street Theatre is located at 1117 West 24th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007 (at the intersection of 24th and Hoover). Secure parking is available for $5 in the lot on the southwest corner of 24th and Hoover. The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call (213) 745-6516 or go to www.24thSTreet.org. Man Covets Bird is best enjoyed by adults and kids 7 and up.
Details for Calendar Listings “Man Covets Bird”
WHAT: Man Covets Bird – What are the songs of birds and men? The U.S. premiere of Finegan Kruckemeyer’s internationally acclaimed tale of friendship is an irresistible mix of storytelling, live music and animation that will enchant kids — and deeply touch adults. To be shared by parents and kids ages 7 and up.
WHO: • Written by Finegan Kruckemeyer • Based on an original concept by Andy Packer • Directed by Debbie Devine • Starring Andrew Huber and Leeav Sofer • Original music composed by Leeav Sofer • Presented by LAb24, 24th Street Theatre’s resident experimental theater company
WHEN: Previews: Sept. 19-26 Performances: Sept. 26- Nov. 22: • Saturdays at 3 p.m.: Sept. 19, 26 (previews); Oct. 3, 10, 17; Nov. 7, 14, 21 (dark Oct. 24, 31) • Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.: Sept. 19 (preview), 26 (opening); Oct. 3, 10, 17; Nov. 7, 14, 21 (dark Oct. 24, 31) • Sundays at 3 p.m.: Sept. 20 (preview), 27; Oct. 4, 11, 18; Nov. 8, 15, 22 (dark Oct. 25, Nov. 1)
WHERE: 24th STreet Theatre 1117 West 24th Street Los Angeles, CA 90007-1725
TICKETS: • Adults: $24 • Under 18: $10 • Seniors, Students and Teachers: $15 • North University Park residents (with ID): $2.40
PARKING: Secure lot on the southwest corner of 24th and Hoover: $5