The Off-Broadway musical comedy, Abie's Island Rose, will resurface Nov. 29-Jan. 7, 2001, at the Hollywood Playhouse in Hollywood, FL, with the original New York cast intact.
Florida-based producers Alan and Kathi Glist have exclusive rights to the new musical, about a medical student (trying to shake off his mother's influence) who falls for an Afro-Caribbean student nurse (trying to respect her father's wishes) in the West Indies. Official opening is Dec. 1.
The staging reunites the four-actor cast of the world premiere spring staging (April 29-May 21) seen at Playhouse 91 under the banner of the Jewish Repertory Theatre (in association with Gilford Freely Productions). The Florida run marks the musical comedy's regional premiere.
The musical has a book by Ron Sproat, music by Doug Katsaros and lyrics by Richard Engquist and Frank Evans.
The Glists are partnering with Broadway producers Kenneth and Sandra Greenblatt (Nine, My One and Only, Zorba, La Cage Aux Folles) and hope to tour the musical. MAC and Bistro award-winning actress Heather MacRae will reprise her role as Madeline Feinman, "the only Jewish mother in America who doesn't want her son to be a doctor." Cabaret star MacRae, who appeared in Broadway's Hair and Falsettos, is about to release a solo album, "Songs for My Father," dedicated to her father, Gordon MacRae, star of the films "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel."
The Florida company will include original New York cast members, including stand-up comedian Steven Rosen as the would-be medical student son, Abie, who falls in love with Rose, Caribbean student nurse, played by Carla Woods. Keith Lee Grant (Marie Christine, Ragtime) returns as Rose's island-priest father. (Florida actor James Randolph was originally announced.)
Composer Katsaros, who recently conducted Footloose on Broadway and orchestrated Broadway's new edition of The Rocky Horror Show directs, as he did Off-Broadway. Musical director is Michael Larsen. The creative team has made some tweaks and improvements in the script, lyricist Frank Evans told Playbill On-Line.
Kathi Glist saw the show in a private reading and fell in love with the material. The musical is not based on the classic play Abie's Irish Rose but is inspired by the script's cross- cultural relationship.
"It's one those shows where you walk out smiling," Kathi Glist told Playbill On-Line. "And that doesn't happen enough in the theatre anymore."
Librettist Sproat is best known as the head writer for the ABC cult series, "Dark Shadows." Lyricists Engquist (Outer Critics Circle Award Winner for Kuni-Leml) and Evans (lyricists of the developing Dinner at Eight) serve on the steering committee of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop in Manhattan.
Designers are David Sherman (set), Ginny Adams (lighting), who replace previously announced designers Jim Morgan and Mary Jo Dondlinger (who did the job in New York City). Daryl Stone returns as costume designer.
Kathi and Alan Glist of Glist Productions are best known for their work in the intimate Amaturo Theater of The Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, FL. They presented I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, winner of South Florida's Carbonell Award for Best Musical of the Year. Their shows, The Sheik of Avenue B, and Sophie, Totie and Belle, both had New York runs after extensive tours. In addition to Abie's, the husband-wife teams of Glist-Greenblatt, under their newly formed G Four Productions, are also preparing Men, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Next Year in Jerusalem and Harry and Thelma in the Woods for the 2000-2001 season.
Abie's Island Rose tickets range $27-$29 (previews $23). The Hollywood Playhouse is at 2640 Washington Street in Hollywood, FL, located between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. For ticket information, call (954) 922-0404.
— By Kenneth Jones