Christopher Ashley
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
Christopher Ashley
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
The La Jolla Playhouse will present the new musical Memphis, featuring book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by David Bryan, August 19-September 28, to be helmed by Christoper Ashley, La Jolla's artistic director. The tuner tells a rousing tale about one of the first white disc jockeys who dared to play rhythm & blues music for his white teenage listeners in the early 1950s. The show will move to Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre in January 2009.

The Playhouse's 2008 season will begin with West Coast premiere of 33 Variations (April 8-May 4), written and directed by Moisés Kaufman. The work tells the story of Ludwig van Beethoven's fascination with a trivial waltz written in 1819 and the modern-day musicologist (played by Jayne Atkinson) who sets out to discover the root of his obsession. Next up will be Charlayne Woodard's solo show The Night Watcher (July 1-27). The writer/performer plays an "Auntie" to 30 nieces and nephews who struggle with the many challenges facing teenagers today.

The world premiere of Charles Busch's The Third Story will follow, September 16-October 19). The play follows a 1940s out-of-work screenwriter and her son, who collaborate on a new screenplay involving a drag queen, a mobster, a mad scientist and a witch from a Russian fairytale.

David Schweizer will direct a revival of Tobacco Road (September 30-October 26), Jack Kirkland's adaptation of Erskine Caldwell's 1932 novel. The play concerns a group of Georgia sharecroppers teetering on the brink of self-destruction during the Great Depression.

The season will wrap up with the musical Xanadu (November 11-December 21), to be directed by Ashley, who also directed the current Broadway production. Based on the 1980 movie of the same title, the show has a book by Douglas Carter Beane and a score by John Farrar and Jeff Lynne.