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Press Release: ​Pacific Playwrights Festival Reading of Harold & Lillian ​

Pacific Playwrights Festival Presents Concert-Reading of Harold & Lillian

Written by Dan Collins and Julianne Wick Davis, Directed by Michael Greif, Featuring Annette O’Toole and Michael McKean

COSTA MESA, Calif. (June 2, 2021)—A true-life, six-decade Hollywood love story is featured as the final digital reading in South Coast Repertory’s (Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei) 2021 Pacific Playwrights Festival (PPF), an annual showcase of new works. The concert-reading of the new musical Harold & Lillian, with book and lyrics by Dan Collins, music by Julianne Wick Davis and based on the documentary film Daniel Raim, streams June 21-27. Tony and Obie Award-winner Michael Greif (Rent, Grey Gardens, Dear Evan Hansen) will direct; Harold and Lillian will be portrayed by Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole, who lead a cast of six. The high-quality film production of this reading, created with a multi-camera setup, captures the best qualities a traditional play reading. Tickets are $19 per streaming device and are available online at www.scr.org.

Harold & Lillia follows the Hollywood romance of storyboard artist Harold Michelson and film researcher Lillian Michelson. Beginning with their elopement after Harold came home from World War II, their marriage spanned six decades—during which they overcame daunting personal challenges and made surprising movie magic. Harold was the storyboard artist for such classic movies asv The Ten Commandments, West Side Story and The Graduate. Lillian conducted research for numerous films including The Birds and Fiddler on the Roof. Harold passed away in 2007, but in 2017, the Michelsons received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Dramatic Arts—the first behind-the-scenes, non-actors to have been given the honor. Lillian will celebrate her 93rd birthday on June 21—the day that SCR’s concert-reading of Harold & Lillian is released. She lives in Los Angeles.

Harold & Lillian, with its powerhouse artistic team and its distinctly Southern California story, is an exciting work to close out the 23rd Pacific Playwrights Festival,” said Artistic Director David Ivers.“ Just as we’ve brought digital innovation to the festival this year, Harold & Lillian is the result of other thrilling initiatives within our new-play development program, The [email protected]—specifically our dedication to fostering new musicals and stories centered on California and California artists.”

The cast also includes Karole Foreman, Roland Rusinek, Jacques C. Smith and Jennifer Leigh Warren. The creative team includes Matt Deitchman, music director, and Joanne DeNaut, CSA, casting. Kathryn Davies is the stage manager and Jerry Patch is the dramaturg.

Collins wrote the book and lyrics for the musicals Trevor, Southern Comfort and The Pen, all with composer Julianne Wick Davis. Trevor received its world premiere at Writers Theatre (Chicago area), where it won the Jeff Award for Best New Work; it’s set to open off-Broadway as soon as the New York City theatre season resumes. Southern Comfort was produced by the Public Theater, following productions at Barrington Stage and Cap21 (Critic's Pick, New York Times and Time Out NYC); it received the Jonathan Larson Award, a GLAAD Media Award and was a nominee for Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards. The Pen (Critic's Pick, New York Times) was produced by Inner Voices and received a Solo Performance Drama Desk Award nomination for its star, Nancy Anderson. His other projects include Wood (starring Tony Award-winner Cady Huffman) and When We Met (Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theater Conference; Collaborative Arts Project/CAP 21). He was selected as a Dramatist Guild Fellow. Collins received his MFA in musical theatre writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and his BFA in playwriting at The Theatre School of DePaul University.

Wick Davis is the recipient of the Jonathan Larson Award (2012) and was the Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award for Outstanding Female Musical Theater Composer (2018). Named one of the Fifty Women to Watch in 2020 by the Broadway Women’s Fund, Davis also received a Lotte Lenya Competition Songbook Series Award (2020) from the Kurt Weill Foundation. Her collaboration on Trevor, with Dan Collins (book and lyrics), had its world premiere at Writers Theatre, Chicago, and received a Jefferson Award for Outstanding New Musical. Trevor is slated to open off-Broadway in 2021. Southern Comfort, also with Collins, received a production at the Public Theater and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick, as well as received nominations for Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle awards for Outstanding Musical. Southern Comfort was part of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Convention (2012) and received a production at Barrington Stage Company, a reading at Playwrights Horizons and a developmental production at Collaborative Arts Project/CAP 21, which garnered a GLAAD Media Award and Critics' Picks from Time Out NYC and The New York Times. The Pen, with Collins, produced for Inner Voices was another New York Times Critic's Pick. When We Met (music and lyrics), was a part of the O’Neill Musical Theater Conference, York Theatre Company’s NEO Development Series, Broadway Bound Concert Series and received a developmental production at CAP21. The Willard Suitcases (book, music and lyrics) had its world premiere at American Shakespeare Center (2019) and was named one of the Top Ten 2019 Theatrical Events by The Washington Post and was featured in the Broadway Bound Series at Merkin Hall. Lautrec at the St. James (music) with John Dietrich (book and lyrics), was selected for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Conference (2019) and will be a part of the Applause Concert Series at the Olney Theatre Center (2021).She contributed two songs for Shakina Nayfack’s Manifest Pussy and was commissioned to write a song for Lonny Price’s Lincoln Center Originals series. She is a Dramatist Guild Fellow, a York Theatre NEO 9 Emerging Writer and a Sundance Fellow at Ucross. She received her MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, where she is currently on faculty. Davis is an ASCAP and Dramatist Guild member.

Bonus Video Features

  • #PPFPlaywrights: An offshoot of SCR’s #Commissioned video series, the interview with Harold & Lillian’s Dan Collins and Julianne Wick Davis will be released on Monday, June 14.
  • Samples From the Lab: Available for PPF ticket purchasers, this exclusive video series features excerpts from SCR-commissioned works-in-process. Streaming June 10-20, it’s a sneak-peek at Louder by Caroline V. McGraw.

Festival Ticket Information

Tickets for the digital concert-reading of Harold & Lillian are $19 per streaming device and may be purchased online at www.scr.org or by phone at (714) 708-5555. SCR’s Box Office is open for calls Mondays, noon-5 p.m., and Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. More information is available at www.scr.org.

Created in 1998, the Pacific Playwrights Festival has grown into one of the leading festivals of new plays in the country and showcases some of the best new work on SCR’s radar. The festival offerings generate lively conversation, future world premieres and subsequent productions. The previous 22 festivals have introduced such award-winning plays as A Doll’s House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath, Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee, Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, Marjorie Prime by Jordan Harrison, Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz, The Language Archive by Julia Cho and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire.

The Pacific Playwrights Festival Honorary Producers are Sally Anderson and Tom Rogers, Laurie and Steve Duncan, Kristen and Adrian Griggs, Samuel and Tammy Tang, and Linda and Tod White.

The 2021 Pacific Playwrights Festival is made possible with generous support from The Shubert Foundation, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Elizabeth George Foundation.

The long-term success of PPF is greatly assisted by The Cripe Eberhard Drachman Family Endowment, The Yvonne and Damien Jordan Endowment, The Jean and Tim Weiss Next Generation Endowment and The Tod and Linda White Pacific Playwrights Festival Endowment.

Complete information is available at www.scr.org.

ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY:  Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964, is led by Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei. SCR is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern plays and musicals, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program—The [email protected]—which includes one of the nation’s largest commissioning programs for emerging, mid-career and established writers. Of SCR’s more than 500 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. www.scr.org

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