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Originally published Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 12:06 AM

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Seattle’s Balagan Theatre plans Cobain musical

“Nirvanov” has been added to Balagan Theatre’s season lineup. The new season also includes a New Works Summer Series and a production of “Carrie: The Musical” starring Tony winner Alice Ripley.

Seattle Times theater critic

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“Nirvanov,” a musical about the late Seattle rock star Kurt Cobain, will be produced here next spring by Balagan Theatre.

A retooled version of the 1990s David Lee-Nandi Johannes show is one of the numerous projects added to Balagan’s 2013-14 season, and, artistic director Louis Hobson says, it is part of the theater’s ambitious new mission of developing and launching commercially appealing musicals of national interest.

“Nirvanov” is described as a mashup of the last days of Cobain (who led the band Nirvana) and “Ivanov,” Anton Chekhov’s play about a melancholic Russian who commits suicide (as did Cobain in 1994), with Courtney Love and the ghost of film star and Seattle native Frances Farmer in the mix. The musical was announced at a gala Monday night.

Hobson, a noted Broadway and Seattle actor, says he’s using his contacts among commercial producers and prominent stage artists to “create a space for exciting things to happen here.”

To that end, Balagan will host a New Works Summer Series of musicals in progress. It kicks off July 6 with “Thankskilling,” based on the indie horror film about a homicidal turkey, followed by “The Roaring 21st,” created by Balagan Executive Director Jake Groshong and others, about a legendary bootlegger (July 15); and “Island Song” (Aug. 19), about New Yorkers engaged in a “twisted love affair” with the Big Apple.

Hobson says he’ll be casting shows with both local talent and Broadway luminaries, including Tony Award-winning “Next to Normal” actress Alice Ripley, who will co-star in Balagan’s fall production of “Carrie: The Musical.”

The 5th Avenue and Village theaters also are developing new musicals. But Hobson contends Balagan can “carve out a niche for producing the great new shows the bigger houses can’t,” due to their size or their audience’s interests.

Balagan’s target demographic: under-45 patrons receptive to contemporary shows with a pop-culture slant.

Former Seattle actress Katie Tomlinson Diamond has signed on as co-producer of the new-works program, and as a donor to Balagan’s projected season budget of $600,000 (a big spike from previous years). New York producers may also invest “enhancement” monies in some projects.

Details about Balagan’s workshop series and the new mainstage season: www.balagantheatre.org.

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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