The echoes of Kurt Weill’s dark footsteps on the Santa Monica pier will today be heard on the historic seaside structure.
Tony Award-winning actor/director Paul Sand is creating a limited-run show at what will be called the West End Theatre, transforming an enclosed observation deck at the end of the Santa Monica pier into what will be a cabaret-style performing space.
Inaugurating the theatre will be “Kurt Weill at the Cuttlefish Hotel” – a performance of a collection of the famed German composer’s songs. The show will open today, Dec. 6.
“I was taking a walk on the pier recently when I suddenly thought, ‘Wouldn’t this be a perfect place to have a theater and present a vivid production of Kurt Weill’s dark, theatrical waterfront songs all about revenge, murder and broken hearts?’” said Sand, who lives near the pier. “And Kurt himself walked this pier, sometimes with his friend and collaborator Bertolt Brecht, who had a house not far away in Santa Monica.”
Sand contacted Jim Harris, deputy director of the Santa Monica Pier Corp., who welcomed the idea enthusiastically.
“For years the pier has been trying to expand its programming to include a variety of arts, and the one area that’s been lacking is theatre,” Harris said. “Cabaret will work wonderfully in that space.”
Currently an enclosed observation deck that sits above Mariasol Restaurant, the space has been underutilized, Harris said.
But Sand already knows how he will transform the room into an atmosphere-soaked cabaret, complete with special lighting, commissioned murals on canvas, and musicians welcoming visitors as they enter the space.
The cabaret will be a “pop-up” theatre on Friday and Saturday nights but will otherwise continue to be open to the public as an observation deck.
Director and performer in the show, Sand enlisted Michael Roth, a Weill expert who lives just a block away from Brecht’s former house in Santa Monica, to be his music director. His fellow cast members are Megan Rippey, Shay Astar and Sol Mason, who plays the narrator.
Songs to be performed include some of Weill’s best-known songs: “Mack the Knife,” “Pirate Jenny” and “Barbara Song” from “Threepenny Opera,” which Weill penned with Brecht; “Surabaya Johnny” from “Happy End;” and “Luck Song,” also known as “The Insufficiency of Human Behavior.” The finale will be “The Alabama Song” from “Mahagonny,” also written with Brecht, performed by the entire company.
Sand, who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Santa Monica (at one time he actually lived on the pier, above the carousel) and Silverlake, has had a long and impressive career on stage and in film and television. At a young age he studied with Marcel Marceau in Paris and at Chicago’s Second City.
His first job was singing and dancing with Judy Garland in her classic, “We’re a Couple of Swells,” which toured the west coast.
In 1966 he co-starred with Linda Lavin and Jo Ann Worley in the off-Broadway hit production, “The Mad Show,” inspired by Mad Magazine.
Five years later, he received a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for his work on Broadway in “Paul Sill’s Story Theatre.”
In 1974 he was the star of the CBS sitcom, “Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers.” “After that I spent years being everybody’s boyfriend, from Mary Tyler Moore to Carol Burnett to all the brilliant funny ladies,” he said.
He has appeared in dozens of television shows dating back to the 1960s, including “Taxi,” St. Elsewhere,” “The X Files” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
The West End Theatre is expected to have 50 to 60 seats.
“Kurt Weill at the Cuttlefish Hotel” will open for one performance at 7:30 pm Friday, Dec. 6. Beginning Dec. 13, performances will be on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and 9 pm. The show will run through Dec. 21, with the possibility of extension.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com/event/8804429285.