42nd Street Says Goodbye to Moscow Earlier Than Expected Dec. 31

News   42nd Street Says Goodbye to Moscow Earlier Than Expected Dec. 31 The American-produced staging of 42nd Street in Moscow will end its run Dec. 31, six months earlier than expected, the CEO of Troika Entertainment told Playbill On-Line.

Troika was on a "guarantee" contract with Russian presenters, who have pulled the plug on the show following a difficult fall when Moscow was rocked by terrorism, including the hostage-taking of a playhouse and its theatregoers in October. More than 100 people were killed in a rescue effort at a Moscow show called Nord Ost, just weeks after the Oct. 11 opening of 42nd Street. Security at the American show was beefed up as a result of the nearby incident.

"We saw a significant drop in ticket sales," Troika's Randy Buck told Playbill On-Line. "Things did slow down, though through the holidays we saw big houses, due to corporate events."

The Dec. 31 show represents performance No. 91.

The guarantee arrangement with the Russian presenters meant that a certain amount of money was guaranteed to Troika for the creation and maintenance of the show. Buck said despite cultural and business differences, Troika may still explore producing shows for Russia, if there are producers interested in American product.

Meredith Patterson and Shonn Wiley (playing Peggy and Billy, respectively) left the company Dec. 22, and in recent weeks 10 new performers had shipped overseas to join the American company, which includes U.S. stage managers, musicians and tech folk (65 Americans in all). Most of the production's support staff and musicians are Russian. "Our original understanding was that we were going to run to the summer of 2003," Buck said, adding that the cultural and business differences between Troika and the Russian producers made the experience "probably...the most difficult thing that any of us has done, and we have all done difficult things in our separate histories. This was difficult. We were literally going where no man had gone before. There was a great learning curve for them and for us. We will be back...whether it's with these partners or other partners."

This was the first time an American company of a Broadway musical comedy was being placed in Moscow, in English, with the intention of an open-ended run.

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Performances played at the MDM Theater (Moscow Youth Palace) in Russia. Actors Patterson and Wiley are veterans of the current Broadway revival, though the 42nd Street in Russia is a hybrid of the Tony-winning 1980 version and the 2001 Tony-winning revival.

Director-choreographer Randy Skinner (who only handled the choreography for the current Broadway staging, which Mark Bramble helmed) flew to Moscow Sept. 19 to join up with his assistant, Rick Conant, who had worked with the chorus and dance leads for 10 days, getting the numbers mounted.

The Oct. 11 cast of the Moscow premiere of the show included Emily Fletcher, Susan Grady, Nicole Sotto, Natalie Krill, Amber Harvie, Tiffany Helland, Kathryn Venverloh, Nicole Bourgeois, Ariel Reid, Natalie Langlois, Alison Stodola, Cheryl Jameson, Krista Kurtzberg, Shannon O'Bryan, Deven Marie Miller, Ginger Merritt, Amanda La Vergne, Jackee Guillou, Danya Gensiorek, Tia Mathieson, Sara Mason, Kristy Ambrosetti, Brendt Reil, Abram LeVasseur, Richard Arnold, Luis Figueroa, Louis Palena, James Bradley, Phillip Attmore, Darren Donahue, Patrick Stiles, Clark Johnsen, Michael Shelton, Matthew Kilgore, Joshua Scheer, Leo Ash Evans. John Wescott is Andy Lee and Kelly Shook is Anytime Annie.

Musical director is Stephen Bates, who was on the original tour in 1982 and also spent time in Europe with the show.

The scenic-costume designer is Russian and the lighting designer and tech team were assembled by Troika.

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Randy Skinner has been associated with 42nd Street as its tap master since 1980, when the stage version the classic Warner Bros. film landed big on Broadway.

"It's the first time an American cast in English is going over to present a big new musical," Skinner previously told Playbill On-Line.

Because of budget restrictions from the Moscow producer, one creator was required for both direction and choreography. Mark Bramble, the show's co-librettist, staged the current Tony Award-winning revival on Broadway and other major revivals.

"When all the big ones are done, Mark, being the author, gets the calls and then we do them as a team," Skinner said. "But this one they had to go with one person to do both."

The production is not an official spin-off tour of the current revival, which is a revised version of the 1980 hit. Skinner created tap choreography under director choreographer Gower Champion for the original show and directed and/or choreographed many productions — in stock, overseas and on tour — over the years. Champion died on the opening night of the show, in 1980.