Vanessa Williams, Mandy Patinkin and Eartha Kitt, who participated in the Public Theater's February 1999 workshop of the new musical, The Wild Party, by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe, have been mentioned as possibilities for the early 2000 world premiere Broadway mounting of the tuner, which the Public and partnering producers will stage at a theatre to be announced.
The Public, of which Wolfe is the producer, with Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind and Jujamcyn Theaters, will produce the musical adaptation of the infamous 1928 narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March. The poem chronicles the booze-soaked antics at a debauched Jazz Age party populated by showfolk, underworld figures and slumming playboys.
The piece is co-scripted by Wolfe, who will also direct. LaChiusa (Hello Again, Marie Christine) is lyricist, composer and co-librettist.
Still on board, as previously announced, are choreographer Joey McKneeley (The Life), scenic designer Robin Wagner (The Life, City of Angels, Angels in America), lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (Ragtime) and costume designer Toni-Leslie James (Footloose, Jelly's Last Jam, Angels in America).
It's a busy season for producers Berlind and Rudin. Berlind will also handle Kiss Me, Kate (with Roger Horchow) in fall 1999, plus (with Rudin, Dodger Theatricals and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts) Stephen Sondheim's Wise Guys, expected for Broadway in spring 2000. *
The Public hosted a workshop of its version of the Joseph Moncure March verse story Feb. 15-25, 1999. The cast included Vanessa Williams, Mandy Patinkin, Eartha Kitt, Keith David (Jelly's Last Jam), Debbie Shapiro Gravitte (Jerome Robbins' Broadway), Jane Summerhays (Lend Me a Tenor, Me and My Girl) and an ensemble of nine.
Choreographer McKneeley was also present during the workshop, which culminated in a Feb. 26 reading.
A full Public production of the work, with a libretto and direction by George C. Wolfe, was previously planned for February 1999, but due to artists' schedules, was bumped to the 1999-2000 season, suggesting that the show will have major stars to anchor the story.
Meanwhile, Manhattan Theatre Club has confirmed it will stage another world-premiere musical version of The Wild Party, by composer lyricist-librettist Andrew Lippa, beginning Jan. 25, 2000. Official opening is Feb. 22, 2000.
Casting has not been announced, but Gabriel Barre will direct and Mark Dendy will choreograph.