10 Million Miles, New Road-Trip Musical With Tunes by Griffin and Direction by Mayer, Opens

News   10 Million Miles, New Road-Trip Musical With Tunes by Griffin and Direction by Mayer, Opens 10 Million Miles, the new Keith Bunin-Patty Griffin musical directed by 2007 Tony Award winner Michael Mayer, opens June 14 at the Atlantic Theater Company's Off-Broadway home.
Matthew Morrison and Irene Molloy in 10 Million Miles.
Matthew Morrison and Irene Molloy in 10 Million Miles. Photo by Monique Carboni

Even before opening, an extension was announced for the production. It plays to July 15. Previews began May 11 at Atlantic's Linda Gross Theater on West 20th Street.

The world-premiere musical, boasting old and new country-folk-rock-flavored music and lyrics by Grammy Award nominee Griffin, are merged with Keith Bunin's original libretto that tells of two tenuously attached lovers, Duane and Molly, who take a road trip up the East Coast — from Florida to New England. Their pickup truck transforms into quirky settings for multiple locations (the scenic designer is Derek McLane) in the journey. Along the way, Duane (played by Matthew Morrison) and Molly (played by Irene Molloy) reveal their wounds and discover what they mean to one another.

The varied folks they meet on the ribbon of highway are played by Mare Winningham and Skipp Sudduth. In previews audiences cheered and hooted after Winningham's plaintive performance of the hardscrabble ballad, "Making Pies," a Griffin classic.

10 Million Miles will likely be (unfairly) compared to the Michael Mayer-Atlantic Theater Company sensation Spring Awakening, which opened in the same Atlantic slot a year ago. It transferred to Broadway in late 2006 and on June 10 won the 2007 Tony Award for Best Musical (one of eight Tonys, including Best Direction of a Musical for Mayer).

10 Million Miles is intended to be a much more intimate experience than its predecessor (which also has a pop-rock score). Like Spring Awakening, 10 Million Miles doesn't use songs to tell story in a specific, on-the-nose way. It wants to be atmospheric and emotionally foggy sometimes. The audience is asked to come along for the ride and do some of the work. Irene Molloy appeared in Broadway's Civil War and the American premiere of Whistle Down the Wind.; Tony Award nominee Matthew Morrison was Fabrizio in The Light in the Piazza, and created the role of Link in Broadway's Hairspray; Skipp Sudduth is a veteran of TV's "Third Watch" and Woody Allen's Writer's Block at the Atlantic; and Academy Award nominee and two-time Emmy Award winner Mare Winningham is remembered for "Georgia," "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Grey's Anatomy."

Playwright Bunin penned The Credeaux Canvas, The World Over and The Busy World Is Hushed, all produced by Playwrights Horizons.

According to ATC, "10 Million Miles tells the story of Duane (Morrison) and Molly's (Molloy) road trip in an old pick-up truck from the southern tip of Florida to Upstate New York, with many detours along the way. With a book by Keith Bunin and songs by Patty Griffin, the world premiere of this new musical explores the pursuit of love and family, and the geography of the American dream."

Patty Griffin's songs have been performed by The Dixie Chicks, Bette Midler, Reba McEntire, Jessica Simpson and Linda Ronstadt. Her new album is "Children Running Through." Her other albums include 1996's "Living With Ghosts," "Flaming Red," "1000 Kisses" and "Impossible Dream" (the last two received Grammy Award nominations).

Inspired by Griffin's music, filmmaker Cameron Crowe selected her to appear in his feature film "Elizabethtown."

The creative team for 10 Million Miles features scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Michael Krass, lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, sound design by Brian Ronan, music direction, arrangements and orchestrations by Tim Weil and music coordination by Michael Keller. Casting is by Jim Carnahan Casting.

Atlantic Theater Company at The Linda Gross Theater (the troupe's mainstage) is at 336 W. 20th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

Tickets are $65 and are available by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or by visiting ticketcentral.com.

Visit www.atlantictheater.com.

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Atlantic Theater Company (Neil Pepe, artistic director; Andrew D. Hamingson, managing director) is producing 10 Million Miles in association with Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman (who shepherded Spring Awakening to Broadway).

Matthew Morrison, Irene Molloy, Skipp Sudduth and Mare Winningham star in <i>10 Million Miles</i> at the Atlantic Theater.
Matthew Morrison, Irene Molloy, Skipp Sudduth and Mare Winningham star in 10 Million Miles at the Atlantic Theater. Photo by Monique Carboni