When actor Jason Alexander was approached by old friends Larry and Cindy Iser, board president of the Las Virgenes Unified School District, to be part of a performing arts fundraiser, he couldn’t refuse. “I had recently come up with the idea for this act but had no appropriate venue with which to try it out. So when that phone call came it was a gorgeous concatenation of events,” Alexander told CV Happening.
Larry, an entertainment lawyer, had been the board president of the Reprise Theater Company during the time Alexander was acting as artistic director. “He has been a great friend and a true supporter of the arts, and I miss working with him terribly,” Alexander said.
The Tony Award-winning performer, best known for his portrayal of the neurotic “George Costanza” on Seinfeld, will debut his one-man show, “Other People’s Stories,” Saturday, April 25, at the Calabasas Performing Arts Education Center. “This is the premier of a show that I’ve been noodling over for quite some time,” Alexander said. “I’ve been intrigued with the idea of doing an evening of songs that are all stories, in and of themselves.”
Working with his musical director, Todd Schroeder, Alexander reviewed long lists of songs from different eras, in a range of styles to try and find the greatest variety of music and story that can be molded it into an evening in the vein of a cabaret act. “It requires me to sing as different characters throughout the show. Some of those characters are older or younger; some are female, some are not an ethnicity you would equate with me. Some of the music is dramatic and a whole bunch of it is, hopefully, quite funny,” he said.
According to Alexander, the audience will be familiar with many of the songs, although they will hear them in a unique way. “Plus we will have five glorious musicians onstage and a big surprise finale, as well,” he said.
Cindy is “very excited” to bring Alexander’s show to the community. “Although Jason does not live in this area nor did his children attend LVUSD schools, Jason has a deep and sincere commitment to performing arts education for all young people,” she said. “During the time Jason was artistic director at Reprise, he oversaw the fulfillment of Reprise’s educational mission to reach out and provide theater experiences to some of the most underserved students in Los Angeles, and he regularly traveled around the country giving master classes at high schools and universities.”
Due to the scarcity of funding for the performing arts in schools, Cindy hopes to bring awareness to the importance of a well-rounded education. In 2006, residents approved Measure G, the construction bond, which funded the building of two state-of-the-art facilities at Calabasas High School and Agoura High School. “The LVUSD community demonstrated how much it values the arts,” she said.
Because bond funds are limited by law to be used only for capital projects and not for teacher salaries or operating costs of the schools or theaters, Cindy said that the board is committed to presenting a gala concert each year to raise funds to benefit all the performing arts programs in the district.
After 14 years, this is Cindy’s final year on the school board. “The board sees this year’s gala, an evening with the Mr. Alexander … as a way of sharing an extraordinary entertainment event with the community that generously passed the bond measure making all this possible,” she said. “And by raising money to help ensure the successful future of our beautiful PAECs and the performing arts programs throughout our district, I am fulfilling my dream of leaving the performing arts students, and the community, with more opportunities than when I began my journey on the board more than a decade ago.”
As for Alexander, in addition to teaching and developing “some film and television shows,” he will be returning to his Broadway roots to take over Larry David’s role in Fish in the Dark on June 9.
To purchase tickets to see “Other People’s Stories,” go to thepaecs.org/2015-gala-fundraiser-to-benefit-the-lvusd-performing-arts/