“Tamara de Lempicka, the late Polish-born painter who is the central figure in “Lempicka,” a musical that will take the stage at La Jolla Playhouse beginning Tuesday, June 14, is bold. She devoured life in a way that I wish I could emulate.”
Kreitzer created the idea and wrote the book and lyrics, Matt Gould co-wrote the book and music, Raja Feather Kelly is choreographer and Rachel Chavkin directs.
Eden Espinosa will take on the role again of de Lempicka in the La Jolla production of “La Jornada.” Espinosa also will star alongside Tracy Letts and other actors from Broadway’s “Wicked,” in The Old Globe’s “Rain,” and in the new musical, “The Gardens of Anuncia.”
De Lempicka was born in 1898. She fled the Russian Revolution and began painting in Paris. She fled during World War II to escape the German invasion and went to Los Angeles. She died in 1980 in Mexico.
Kreitzer, who is based in Minneapolis, said “There is so much I love about her.” Kreitzer spoke of the many things she loves to do, including her hunger for beauty, love and so much more.
Kreitzer said the show is “the first enormous musical (I have ever) had the great joy to work on.”
“I’ve been acting in plays since I was a child. I wanted to help bring to life stories of women who have inspired me and empowered me. They helped give me a sense of confidence and strength. Sometimes I do wish that I would have known them as my childhood friends.”
Although women she writes about are sometimes criticized for their “iconoclastic” behavior, they help bring about change in the systems that would otherwise leave them behind.
“I often feel that there are not enough stories in literature that feature women who are complex and interesting,” Kreitzer said. “I’m drawn to women who seem far too often just defined by their gender, when the world sees them as anything more than human.”
De Lempicka is an inspiration for Kreitzer. He wants people to know she existed and she was a great artist and he respected her work.
Kreitzer had learned about de Lempicka through a friend and dove right in, doing something different form what she usually did. As she was an epic historical figure, her life felt like it deserved to be told by way of a musical.
Kreitzer says that the show “verges on this delicious kind of greed that women are often not allowed”. Women in these situations may be taught to be polite, work really hard but let everyone else go first and still maintain their pretty and quiet personal.
Kreitzer said that she was inspired by the way de Lempicka found herself through the struggle she had to go through in her life, and if not for the hardship of being a refugee, going through revolution and losing her family, as well as having to start over again … then maybe she would not have become an artist.
Kreitzer met Gould when she wrote the name on a digital canvas. They had significant influence on one another and their careers, with Kreitzer saying she “can’t imagine
Kreitzer and Gould spent over a decade on the project, with plans to premiere the show in early 2020. A pandemic paused production, but they resumed working on it two years after the outbreak.
She said, “We were one week from getting on planes to come [to La Jolla] when the world shut down.”
“The most recent iteration of the titular painting, ‘L’Ode a l’Amour’ on display in Kiev at the moment,” Kreitzer said. The piece has feel more and more relevant politically as Russia has invaded Ukraine.
She said that she was moved to tears during rehearsals because she had not thought of them like this before.
“Kreitzer is excited to see the show come to life in three dimensions and we have never seen it before,” said.
“Selectively rewriting the play for this staging was a fascinating experience,” she said. “This feels like the most concentrated and true version of this musical that we’ve ever had.”
When: Tuesday, June 14, through Sunday, July 24
Where: Mandell Weiss Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive