It's a noir-musical-comedy-thriller -- and it may be coming to Off Broadway next spring. It's The Betrayal Of Nora Blake, written and composed by John Meyer. The show will have a backers' and agents' reading at the 21 Club in New York City, 6 PM, June 30.
If the Meyer name sounds familiar, you may have read his occult thriller, "Nightchild," or his memoir, "Heartbreaker." The latter deals with his relationship with singer/actress Judy Garland; he was her last love interest before she died.
Said Nora Blake's producer, Bobbie Horowitz, "Garland was instrumental in helping John stay in the business. He was thinking of giving up, and she kept telling him, `You can write, you can write! You're good, you're good!' And when someone like that tells you you're good, you keep going. She ended up doing a song of his on "The Tonight Show," and that was the beginning." Meyer has also penned tunes sung by Eartha Kitt, Madeline Kahn and Shirley Bassey.
The Story Of Nora Blake is a 1940s noir musical about twin fashion designers in NY. The good twin is a talented dress designer; her sister is the business head of their boutique -- and a murderess."
The reading at 21 Club's Puncheon Room will have a piano backing. Songs in the show include, "There's A Man In My Life," (which Margaret Whiting is recording on her next CD); "Walk Into The Morning," "A Date From The Beginning," "Daddy's Girl," and the big production number, "Fishnet And Chicken Bones." Horowitz explained that the latter title refers to the fact that during WWII, "it was hard to get fabrics and trimmings for dresses, so Nora devised a way to make garments out of fishnets and chicken bones." A new script, Nora Blake was first read before an audience in mid mid-April. The reaction was so strong, says Horowitz, she had three investors clamoring to be in on the process. "I agreed with the general manager that it was the most `ready' script we'd ever seen. It wasn't even a backers' reading; it was just to see how the script worked."
Forbidden Broadway's Gerard Alessandrini has consulted on the project and even helped choose the reading's director, John Znidarsic. Appearing in the reading will be leads Tia Speros and Chris Gates; Gabor Morea, Annette Hunt, Stu Zagnit ("he plays a real sicko!" says Horowitz), and Jennifer Smith, who currently plays Princess #12 in Broadway's Once Upon A Mattress.
Author Meyer told Playbill On-Line, "This show is kind of like what `Mildred Pierce' would be if it were a musical. It's funny (we hope), and all original. I got the idea from an article in the paper about twin brothers in the same penitentiary, one in solitary confinement. His brother came down and replaced him so he could have a decent meal. I changed them to sisters, with the evil one escaping. It's a hoot."
"We're asking some main performers' agents to come to this reading," added Horowitz. "And we're hoping to tie into a major fashion name." Horowitz says she's targeting next spring for an Off-Broadway production. "It could be the fall," she said, "theatre-permitting. But I wouldn't promise that." She also hopes to get a staged reading up "sometime in July" in the Hamptons.
--By David Lefkowitz