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Talent Up to Here

A dream team brings a new show to La Jolla Playhouse.
Betsy Wolfe and Matt Bittner star in Up Here | Photo By Matt Murphy (La Jolla Playhouse)

By Erin Meanley Glenny

Matt Bittner may be the one person on the planet who has not seen Disney’s mega-hit Frozen. At least, he hadn’t prior to auditioning for its Oscar-winning songwriters, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who present Up Here, a world-premiere musical at La Jolla Playhouse this month. Lopez is the composer and lyricist of the Broadway musicals Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon, and while Bittner knows the soundtracks, he hasn’t seen these either.

When he was cast as Dan, the opportunity to work with the Lopezes was not lost on Bittner. “They don’t approach story elements, songs, or dialogue in a way that is even remotely predictable,” he says. “I found myself laughing aloud while reading through the audition material.”

Both he and costar Betsy Wolfe rave about the creative team, which includes director Alex Timbers (Rocky, Peter and the Starcatcher). “The team is an embarrassment of riches,” says Betsy. (This from an actress who worked with Woody Allen and Susan Stroman in Bullets Over Broadway.)

As of this June, Up Here rehearsals had not begun, and the material was top-secret. Even Bittner and Wolfe had to speculate, mentioning “talk of some magical moments of staging” where the audience experiences Dan’s distracting thoughts in the middle of his quest for love.

On their off days, San Diego will be their playground. Bittner is excited about Morley Field Disc Golf Course. “I’m an Oregonian at heart, so disc golf is one of my favorite hobbies.” And both stars already love fish tacos. Says Bittner: “If that’s a thing [in California], I will be eating them.”

Yes, it’s a thing. And so is Frozen.

July 28–September 6, Mandell Weiss Theatre

Talent Up to Here

Betsy Wolfe and Matt Bittner star in Up Here | Photo By Matt Murphy (La Jolla Playhouse)

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