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Image by Wesley Pribadi


Image by Paul Green

Pacific Overtures Revival
Off-Broadway, Promenade Theatre

Nominated for Outstanding Revival, 31st Annual Drama Desk
Rosamund Gilder Award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in the Theatre

"A Fascinating, one-of-a-kind theatrical experiment"
- Frank Rich, The New York Times

"A Beautiful Work... A Startling Adventurous Musical"
- Pia Lindstrom, WNBC-TV

"Pacific Overtures," to put it simply, is wonderful
- Michael Kuchwara, Associated Press

"Brilliant... this show is really worth the price of the ticket"
- Liz Smith, N.Y. Daily News Syndicated

“A feat of magic that demonstrates its freshness, resilience and power. Under Fran Soeder’s direction the ensemble is unusually strong. Miraculous!”
- Howard Kissel, Women’s Wear Daily

Pacific Overtures Revival
York Theatre Company
First New York Revival

“The York Theatre’s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1976 musical “Pacific Overtures” is an inspiring example of a small theatre company using modest resources to mount a production that soars with more grace and elegance than anyone might have had reason to suspect. It also affords theatre goers who missed “Pacific Overtures when it originally ran on Broadway the chance to discover a work that represents musical theatre at its most intellectually challenging.

A major criticism of the Harold Prince directed Broadway production eight years ago was that the show’s reflective delicacy was smothered under spectacle and bombast. The York Theatre revival, by contrast, lets the ideas shine through a production that’s beautiful but by no means opulent. The director, Fran Soeder, has wisely abandoned any hopes of imposing a grand narrative structure on this very episodic work, and has staged it instead as a series of ironic illuminations.”

- Stephen Holden, the New York Times

“The York Theatre Company has mounted the best Off-Off Broadway revival of an American musical that I’ve ever seen – and I am talking 15 years!”
- Marilyn Stasio, New York Post


“The York Theatre Company is now presenting this “most bizarre and unusual musical ever to be seen in a commercial setting” … and it is done beautifully. In fact, miraculously! Much of the success of this revival of “Pacific Overtures” is due to the brilliant direction of Fran Soeder who has scaled down the musical without any loss of its rich textures. His staging is as detailed as it is imaginative.”
- Willam A. Raidy, The Star Ledger

Peter Pan
Broadway Revival - 35th Anniversary Production
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre

Tony Nominations:
- Best Revival of a Play or Musical
- Best Actress in a Musical

“Unlike the current revival of 'Fiddler on the Roof', both Broadway revivals of “Peter Pan” while crediting Jerome Robbins for conceiving and choreographing the musical in 1954, have not attempted to recreate Robbins’ work. This time around, long time revival specialist Fran Soeder makes his Broadway debut as director, and he has provided a number of original touches.
The production adds a significant number of lines from the original by Sir James M. Barrie play never before heard in the musical. There’s also a voice-over prologue which I presume is taken from a preface to the play or Barrie’s novel version of the story. The Pater Pan-Captain Hook duet, “Mysterious Lady” has been dropped, with a chunk of the play’s cave sequence inserted instead.
The first act finale, in which Peter, Wendy, John, and Michael fly off to Neverland is always a sensation, but here it’s in front of a wonderful drop of a lit-up, aerial view of London, and features a Peter who pirouettes while zooming forward.
Those pirouettes may have something to do with the fact that this revival has been mounted as a vehicle for Cathy Rigby, the former Olympic gymnast … Rigby is the most believably boyish and youthful Pan I’ve ever seen, and certainly the most athletic.
There’s no nicer sight on Broadway at the moment than the look on the faces of all the children at this revival, getting “hooked” on the theatre, maybe forever.”

- Ken Mandelbaum, Theatre Week


20th Anniversary Revival
Long Beach Civic Light Opera

Winner, Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award for "Best Direction"
Winner, Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award "Best Musical"

“Directed by Sondheim colleague Fran Soeder, who extracts fabulous performances from his entire cast, this Long Beach Civic Light Opera production of “Follies” is absolutely not to be missed! … a pristine production the LBCLO can be rightfully proud of. The entire cats deserves a standing ovation.”
- Shirle Gottlieb, Drama-Logue

“…especially Fran Soeder, the terrific director who has meshed all the elements into a satisfying whole.”
- Variety

“”And here it is again - “Follies” reconstituted in more or less all of its grandeur. The Long Beach Civic Light Opera production at the Terrace Theatre is directed by Fran Soeder, with Dorothy Lamour, Shani Wallis, Juliet Prowse, Harvey Evans, Ed Evanko, Karen Morrow and Denice Darcel. And those are only a few of the names that whet your appetite. There are also Yma Sumac, Susan Johnson, Billy Barnes, and Jackie Joseph. Watch them play among the stunning, sumptuously garbed “ghosts” of the showgirls of yesteryear moving like transfixed ostriches on a bleak set by Ken Holamon that delivers the resonance of a cloying past around its tattered edges.
- Sylvie Drake, The Los Angeles Times


Sunday In The Park With George
West Coast Premiere
The Long Beach Civic Light Opera

“Aside from attesting to all the best reasons why “Sunday” won (among many awards) a Pulitzer for its authors, the production is by far the best effort put out by the Long Beach Civic Light Opera. It ranks as a very close second to the Broadway staging - and not just because it happens to be played on the Broadway sets and in the Broadway costumes.
There are abundant other reasons as well. Chief among them is the clear, uncluttered staging by Fran Soeder …Pamela Myers, who has never been better…If he (Sondheim) is served impeccably by Myers as Dot and the aged Marie, proving she has not only the vocal fortitude for Sondheim’s complexities, but also humor and great appeal, at least the same applies to Robert Yacko in the dual role of Seurat and Suerat’s great-great grandson. It is a clean, reflective, melancholy, and intense performance. Director Soeder also chose to balance the company astutely. There’s not a disappointment in it.
Sondheim fans wouldn’t dream of missing “Sunday’s” Southern California premiere. Far more exciting is the prospect of the uninitiated who come for the first time on the strength of the show’s reputation and go away mesmerized and ensnared forever.
It’s that good – and it’s worth noting that no theatre in Los Angeles could be persuaded to book or stage “Sunday in the Park”. “Too expensive” was the refrain. So the Long Beach CLO is to be commended for jumping in and daring what no other organization in Southern California was willing to attempt.
But much more important, it has done so with superior fashion, and at an affordable price.”

- Sylvie Drake, LA Times

“The staging is excellent, the performances superb.”
- Gary Franklin, KABC TV

“The Southern California premiere is quite a coup with Broadway caliber performances.”
- Helen Peppard, Daily News


The Wizard of Oz
Los Angeles Revival

Winner, Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award for "Best Direction"
Winner, Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award "Best Musical"

“The memory of Judy Garland’s wistful Dorothy will forever shine, but catch the Long Beach Civic Light Opera’s captivating “Wizard of Oz” at the Terrace Theatre - those ruby red slippers fit Cathy Rigby to perfection. The musical itself under Fran Soeder’s direction, is irresistibly fresh.
Special effects are a juicy part of this show. In addition to sparks and smoke, Kirk R. Thatcher’s filmed sequences sizzle, including a skeletal talking Oz Head and an ominous whirling cyclone. The actors do a lot of wire work and the sight of Dorothy and Miss Gulch whizzing through the air as the cyclone hits an undeniable crowd-pleaser.”

- Lynne Heffley, The Los Angeles Times


Anyone Can Whistle
York Theatre Company
First New York Revival

“This is a show with overwhelmingly complicated staging problems, but the young and talented director, Fran Soeder, has solved them all. He worked as Harold Prince’s assistant on “Sweeney Todd” and is something of a protégé of Stephen Sondheim’s, so he knows what he’s doing, and this production reflects his keen theatrical savvy.
In this mint-fresh revival, the York Players have created, with limited money and an abundance of talent, a miracle of their own.”

- Rex Reed, The New York Daily News

“There is no way that anyone could improve on Fran Soeder’s direction …”
- Jennie Schulman, BACKSTAGE


A Little Night Music
York Theatre Company
First New York Revival

“Brilliantly directed by Fran Soeder. An utterly enchanting prodcution.”
- Jennie Schulman, BACKSTAGE

“This is the first New York revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1973 masterpiece and if you missed the Broadway original, consider this revival the next best thing. The production staged by Fran Soeder and designed by James Morgan, makes no attempt at reproducing the enchanted forest setting of the Broadway original, substituting a series of sketchy interiors backed in the first act by a miniature city and forest, mounted on a turntable, that is usually seen through a window. This tiny scene is replaced in the second act with a model of the country mansion, complete with lighted windows, that is the setting for the latter action. These seem wise choices, given the company’s tiny performance space, and most of the visual elements are lovely.”
- Peter Wynne, The BERGEN RECORD


110 In The Shade
York Theatre Company
First New York Revival

“Happiness awaits anyone lucky enough to catch the final performances this week of the York Players' handsome, gorgeously sung and artfully directed revival of “110 In The Shade”. If anything, the current revival is better than the Broadway original, at least in the case of the leading performers … masterfully directed by the talented Fran Soeder.”
- Rex Reed, the New York Daily News

“This is a singing company and Fran Soeder's staging use the excellent voices and the songs with imaginative dramatic sensitivity. There is a glow and warmth about this production that come from the heart …”
- John S. Wilson, The New York Times


Colette Collage
York Theatre Company
New York Premiere

“By concentrating on five characters, focusing on the start of the writer's career and on the end, and by using a fluid, cinematic form of staging that has been imaginatively carried out by Fran Soeder, Mr. Jones and Mr. Schmidt have managed to give dramatic validity to their view of Colette. Their score's charming, rhythmic songs provide color, detail and character in compact cameos.”
- John S. Wilson, The New York Times

“Remember music? I mean, those rich creamy show-tunes that composers used to write before all the heavy amplification and sophisticated orchestrations took to overpowering the melodic structure of a score? Well, that's the kind of luscious stuff that Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt have written for “Colette Collage:” and it's gorgeous. Fran Soeder's charming production supplies a fluid form for all the events for emotional growth chronicled in the score without ever denying the show its visual graces.”
- Marilyn Stasio, New York Post


The York Theatre Company

“Visually striking … the production sustains a mood of spirited fun.”
- Stephen Holden, The New York Times

“On a budget of what must be at least $1.50, the York Players and director Fran Soeder have staged one of the more inventive productions to be found in the city.
The most imaginative aspects of the show are the visual: The Soeder and James Morgan collaboration on the use of slide projections to underscore the sometimes daffy recitations; Soeder’s adroit orchestration of puppetry and live action, and Morgan’s set that allows the actors to pop vigorously in and out of windows while hawking their songs. All these coupled with a peppy limber-limbed cast and a fine sextet headed by Eric Stern delight the eye and ear. The show is basically a revel and a good time should be had by all.”

- Don Nelson, Daily News

“An elegant clownishness filled Fran Soeder’s staging of Façade” … when it ended, I wanted it to begin all over again!”
- Robert Massa, The Village Voice


York Theatre Company
First New York Revival

“Fran Soeder’s staging of this York revival makes a strong virtue of the show’s simplicity, and is much helped by the imaginative scenic design of James Leonard Joy and, equally, the costumes of Mariann Verheyen, it emerges with commendable conviction.”
- Clive Barnes, New York Post

“Director Fran Soeder’s staging uses the company’s unorthodox playing space well, and presents the piece straightforwardly, allowing it to speak for itself.”
- Ken Mandelbaum, Theatre Week


Peter Pan
Alliance Theatre

“It is said of certain musicals that you walk out whistling the scenery. After the Alliance theatre's 'Peter Pan', you will - to use Peter's favorite form of self expression – crow it.
'Peter Pan' which reunites director Fran Soeder with designer James Leonard Joy proves that their “Candide” at the Alliance last spring wasn't scenically unstoppable after all. By the time the Broadway-caliber designers finish whisking you over the dizzying rooftops of London, onto the deck of a spinning pirate ship, deep into the phantasmagorical glades and caverns of Neverland, you'll feel as though you need to check through customs and claim a big pile of luggage before you're ready to re-enter the real world. With its towering toadstools and gnarly roots and jagged cliffs and glowing moon - all of which you feel as much as you see – the sets are so terrific that the Alliance might recoup its half-million-bucks investment by renting them out to theatres around the country.”

- Dan Hulbert, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

“Well, Neverland … has never seemed so unbelievably real as it does on stage at the Alliance this season. And it's heartening to report that the theatre's most extravagant undertalking in its 20-year history, topping the Soeder directed “Candide” of last spring, is also the Alliance's most emotionally moving evening in memory.
The performance of Ann Morrison, splendidly cast as Peter Pan, is emblematic of this show’s balanced and insightful approach. Her trained voice sails as high as her agile body does when she leads the Darling children in “I’m flying”. But when Morrison sings of a “Distant Melody”- a faintly remembered tune her Peter heard from a faintly remembered mother – we are held to the poignant heart of Sir James Barrie’s story.
This fine actress, with her pert nose smudged like a forest creature and her expression of anger and pride writ as large as any boy child, keeps us close to our own feelings throughout the extravaganza.
Soeder’s interpretation, like that of his designers and cast of near 30 – like Morrison’s – maturely controlled, yet charmingly sincere.”

- Beverly Trader, The Atlanta News


Alliance Theatre

“The Alliance pulls out every stop, fires every gun, tries every trick in the stagecraft book on its way to a dazzling and delightful evening. Fran Soeder’s captivating staging has more exotic locales than a James Bond movie – one imagines the line of scenery must stretch out onto 15th Street. The ravishing Mariann Verheyen costumes capture the cartoony international polyglot that Voltaire described; “South Americans” worthy of a Carmen Miranda movie, furry hatted “Bulgarians” reminiscent of the Wicked Witch castle guards. In James Leonard Joy’s witty, wooden set, ramps and walkways straddle the orchestra pit, and towers are swiveled and unfolded to create ships and castle ramparts. It’s like a big attic loft of the imagination, a play ground for grown-ups.
And here’s just a short list of some of the amazing set piece toys: a pint size volcano, a balloon that magically appears to rise, a cuddly lion and pink sheep, and an octopus tentacle that removes an overzealous singer with the efficiency of an old vaudeville hook.”

- Dan Hulbert, The Atlanta journal Constitution


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