FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    PRESS CONTACT: David Elzer    (818) 508-1754



A Musical Play by Joseph Vass
Directed by David Ellenstein
Musical Director Kevin Toney
Musical Arranger Joseph Vass

Limited Engagement opens Saturday, April 18th at The Colony Theatre in Burbank!

March 25, 2015...Burbank . . . The Colony Theatre is thrilled to present the final production of its historic 40th Anniversary season, the Los Angeles Premiere of WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN A Musical Play by Joseph Vass, directed by David Ellenstein, Musical Director Kevin Toney, Musical Arranger Joseph Vass. WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN will preview on Wednesday, April 15; Thursday, April 16; and Friday, April 17 at 8:00pm. It will open on Saturday, April 18 at 8:00pm and continue through Sunday, May 17. Meet the man behind the lyrics you love. With "Fascinating Rhythm," " ‘S Wonderful," "The Man That Got Away," "Long Ago And Far Away," "A Foggy Day," "I Got Rhythm," and many more, the other half of the famous Gershwin duo guides us on a trip through some of the greatest American songs ever written. Insights and tales about his legendary collaborations all frame this fascinating and inspiring evening of music and theatre. LOS ANGELES PREMIERE.

 "Captivating ... a wonderful evening's entertainment for music lovers of all ages." – Aisle Say Twin Cities


(Author/Musical Arranger) conceived and wrote Words By Ira Gershwin. He previously created The Soul Of Gershwin: The Musical Journey Of An American Klezmer, the hit musical for which Vass received the Minnesota theater community's prestigious Ivey Award and which has been performed to rave reviews all across North America. His newest play Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Great Nome Gold Rush is slated for its world premiere at the North Coast Repertory Theatre this coming January 16, 2016. Vass also wrote the book, music and lyrics for the stage musical Mishegass! produced by the Actors Theater of Minnesota. He has composed, performed and recorded the dramatic music for stage productions like The Chosen and The Last Seder, as well as all the songs used in the score of the Canadian National Film Board film I Was A Child of Holocaust Survivors. He is the guiding spirit behind Klezmerica, the contemporary Jewish music ensemble which has performed in all corners of the United States and at the International Klezmer Festival in Israel. Vass wrote all the original music and lyrics on all of the band's many recordings. Vass is a member of The Dramatists Guild. He divides his time at home between Maplewood, Minnesota, and Phoenix, Arizona.

DAVID ELLENSTEIN (Director) is pleased to be making his directorial debut at the Colony Theatre and to be working with his dear friend Barbara Beckley. David directed the premiere of Words By Ira Gershwin at North Coast Rep in 2013, and has subsequently directed productions of it at Park Square Theatre in Minnesota and Portland Stage in Maine. As Artistic Director of North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach CA since 2003, he has produced over 100 productions and directed more than 40 there. Favorites include Faded Glory, Becoming Cuba, and Mandate Memories (World Premieres), Time Stands Still, My Name is Asher Lev, The Drawer Boy, Becky's New Car, Ghosts, The Tempest, Madagascar, A Shayna Maidel, Rashomon, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Collected Stories, Romeo and Juliet, and Story Theatre. Elsewhere, other directing credits include Sonia Flew starring Lucy Arnaz; Halpern and Johnson starring Hal Linden and Brian Murray; The Chosen starring Theodore Bikel and John Lloyd Young at the Coconut Grove Playhouse and Papermill Playhouse, Rocket City (World Premiere) and Honky Tonk Angels at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Alexandros (World Premiere) at Laguna Playhouse, A Christmas Carol at Meadow Brook Theatre, Halpern and Johnson at Portland Stage, Conversations With My Father at Portland Rep, Rabbit Hole at Actors Theatre of Phoenix, A Long Day's Journey Into Night at Renaissance Theatre, and productions at Great Lakes, Southwest, Nevada, and Kingsmen Shakespeare Festivals. David is the former Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Repertory Company and the Arizona Jewish Theatre. He lives with his beautiful wife Denise and their amazing sons Jamie and Will in Carlsbad CA.

(Musical Director and Pianist) is an award-winning musician, composer, and author. Theater credits includes national touring production of Five Guys Named Moe, Memphis (LaJolla Playhouse),Ain't Misbehavin (Sahara Hotel), Sophisticated Ladies, James Brown: Get On The Good Foot (Apollo Theater), Atlanta (Geffen Playhouse), Its Only Make Believe, Gem Of The Ocean, Crowns (Pasadena Playhouse), Magic Of Motown (Tribute To Berry Gordy), Beggars Holiday, Harlem Suite (Pantages Theater), Dreamgirls (Ahmanson Theater), Smokey Joe's Cafe´ (La Mirada Theater), Henry IV (Kennedy Center), When Hell Freezes Over I'll Skate, Ain't Nothing But The Blues, Amen Corner, Wild Women Blues . Kevin was the leader of The Blackbyrds, the innovative jazz-­soul band and wrote many of their hits including Rock Creek Park and Unfinished Business. He has released twelve acclaimed solo albums. Strut (2001) was selected by the 2002 Winter Olympics Committee as official Olympic music. His original composition Kings is a staple at jazz radio nationwide. Kevin's latest album release is New American Suite. Kevin has also performed with major artists including Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Nancy Wilson, Pink, Shania Twain, Kenny Burrell, Carl Anderson, Obba Babatunde, Shirley Caesar, Ray Parker Jr., and Edwin Hawkins. Film scoring includes Kings of the Evening and Clarissa's Gift. Books include The Virtuous Man – Breaking The Men's Code and The Kevin Toney Collection. Awards include two Grammy nominations, three RIAA Gold Record awards, an NAACP Image Award, and a National Endowment ror the Arts Fellowship Grant.


(Ira Gershwin) co-wrote and originated the role of Louis Prima in Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara, winning three Ovation Awards, LADCC, Garland, and LA Weekly awards for Best Actor and Best Production. Originating at Sacred Fools and directed by Jeremy Aldridge, the production transferred for a 9 month run at the Geffen, directed by Taylor Hackford. As an actor, Jake's other theatre credits include: Mozart in Amadeus directed by Sir Peter Hall (Old Vic London, Broadway, L.A.), When Harry Met Sally with Alyson Hannigan and Luke Perry (Theater Royal Haymarket, London), Lord Buckley in His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley (Off Broadway, Off West End, L.A.) and Ophelia & Juliet in the Reduced Shakespeare Company's Complete Works of Shakespeare at the Criterion in London. Film includes: Bad Milo!, Kevin Spacey's Beyond the Sea, Shadow Dancer, L'entente Cordiale, In A Day, and The Barn (for which he was awarded the 2004 BIFA award), The Chicago 8, and the upcoming thriller Sleepwalker, with Richard Armitage. Television Includes: a recurring role on Silicon Valley (HBO), Company Town (CW), The Cleaner (A&E), How I Met Your Mother (CBS), Keen Eddie (FOX), Roman Mysteries (BBC), Strange (BBC), Line of Beauty (BBC), Broken News (BBC), Auf Weidersein Pet (BBC), and recurring role on The Eagle (Denmark-Winner of a 33rd International Emmy). His writing includes the produced plays Louis and Keely: Live at the Sahara as well as His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley, and the forthcoming Our American Hamlet in development with the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. He trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and lived and worked there for 15 years before coming back to the United States. In NY, he studied saxophone with Lee Konitz and went to the New England Conservatory & Tufts University. He is a citizen of the US and the UK. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the actress Lucy Davenport Broder, and Ella (7) and Louis (6 Months).

(Crooner) is proud to be back home at the Colony Theatre! For his performance of Roland Hayes in Breath and Imagination at the Colony, Elijah won the 2014 NAACP Theatre Award for Best Male Equity. Recently, he reprised the role of Hayes in Breath and Imagination with ArtsEmerson at the Paramount Theatre in Boston. He is also thrilled to debut his Jazz Cabaret show at the Colony. In film, Elijah is set to star in the biopic Lincoln Perry (Stepin Fetchit), to be directed by award-winning writer/director Antwone Fisher. Last season, Elijah made his television debut as a recurring guest star in season 2 of Showtime's hit drama, Masters of Sex. He is a proud member of Actor's Equity Association(AEA) and SAG-AFTRA. Website: twitter:@elijahrock

(Chanteuse) appeared on the original Star Search hosted by Ed McMahon where she was undefeated ten consecutive weeks winning the $100,000 grand prize as female vocalist champ. Legendary producer David Merrick took notice and cast her in the leading role of Kay in George Gershwin's musical Oh Kay and played Sara in the Tony Award-winning musical Ragtime. She went on to perform with the Roanoke Symphony where she broke all attendance records in an hour-long tribute to Gershwin and Cole Porter. She was Don Rickles's opening act in an extended Las Vegas engagement at the Golden Nugget Hotel. She has appeared on a number of television shows and continued performing on stage in leading roles such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Beehive, You Never Know (for which she was nominated for an NAACP Best Supporting Performance Award), and as a featured vocalist with the highly-acclaimed international dance production show Burn the Floor. Most recently, Angela has performed leading roles in Sophisticated Ladies, the world premiere of Ray Charles Live at the Pasadena Playhouse directed by Sheldon Epps, the world premiere of The Princess and the Back-Eyed Pea at San Diego Rep, the Toronto company of Rock of Ages, and Queen for a Day starring Alan Thicke. Currently, she is the voice for Viv and Mama Bear on the award-winning cartoon Peg + Cat on PBS. Angela is thrilled to be performing at The Colony Theatre for the first time and with another Gershwin musical.

features an award-winning design team. The Scenic Design is by David Potts (Emmy Award – HBO's Deadwood). The Costume Design is by Dianne K. Graebner (Ovation nominations The Brothers Karamazov and Battle Hymn). The Lighting Design is by Jared A. Sayeg (Ovation nominations – Trying and Kiss Me, Kate). The Sound Design is by Drew Dalzell (Ovation Award – Songs for a New World). Property Design and Set Dressing is by Colony Theatre resident propmaster John M. McElveney and Scenic Art is by resident artist Orlando de la Paz.


will open on Saturday, April 18 at 8:00pm and continue through Sunday, May 17. Performances for WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN are Thursdays & Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 3:00pm & 8:00pm; and Sundays at 2:00pm. Ticket prices range from $20.00 - $49.00 (group discounts are available). WORDS BY IRA GERSHWIN will preview on Wednesday, April 15; Thursday, April 16; and Friday, April 17 at 8:00pm at The Colony Theatre, 555 North Third Street (at Cypress) adjacent to the Burbank Town Center Mall.

Opening night performance with reception - all tickets $55.00. There are question-and-answer talkbacks after the performances on Friday, April 24 and Thursday, May 7. For tickets, call the Colony Theatre Box Office at 818/558-7000 ext. 15 or online at

For more information, press interviews, photos, or for press comps, please contact David Elzer/DEMAND PR at 818/508-1754 or at or visit

The Colony Theatre has long been a vibrant center of L.A.'s theatre life. Its subscribers renew at an astounding rate of 90%, and in 2012 the theatre received nine Ovation Award nominations, including the coveted one for Best Season. From its beginnings in 1975 as a 99-seat Equity-waiver theatre in Silver Lake, the company became so successful artistically, and built such a large subscriber base, that in 2000 it was able to move into a 270-seat state-of-the-art theatre created for it by the City of Burbank. As such, it became one of only a handful of mid-sized professional theatres in the L.A. area that produce a year-round season of plays and musicals, and that employ actors under contract with Actors' Equity Association. The theatre is located at 555 North Third Street, at the corner of Cypress, in the heart of Downtown Burbank. For further information, call (818) 558-7000. Fax number: (818) 558-7110. E-mail: Or visit our website at