Ahrens & Flaherty's Glorious Ones to Premiere in Pittsburgh; Daniele Directs

News   Ahrens & Flaherty's Glorious Ones to Premiere in Pittsburgh; Daniele Directs Pittsburgh Public Theater, the resident Equity company led by artistic and executive director Ted Pappas, will premiere two works in its 2006-07 season, including The Glorious Ones, the new musical by Tony Award winners Lynn Ahrens and Pittsburgh native Stephen Flaherty.
Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.
Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Graciela Daniele — the songwriting team's collaborator on Ragtime, Once on This Island and Dessa Rose — will direct and choreograph the new musical about a group of traveling Italian theatre artists in the Renaissance. It's based on a novel by Francine Prose. The Glorious Ones begins April 19, 2007.

The varied new season at PPT's three-quarter thrust stage of the O'Reilly Theater will also include the world premiere play The Secret Letters of Jackie & Marilyn by Mark Hampton and Michael Sharp, based on "The Secret Letters of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy" by Wendy Leigh, directed by Leonard Foglia (starting Nov. 9).

Pappas will direct W.B. Yeats' 1926 translation of Oedipus (launching the new season Sept. 28) and the 1987 version of the groundbreaking musical Cabaret (starting Jan. 25, 2007). Rob Ruggiero will direct Christopher Hampton's translation of Yasmina Reza's domestic marriage-and-work drama Life x 3 (March 8-April 8, 2007). An additional production in May 2007 will be announced.

The Glorious Ones, set in the age of commedia dell'arte — when so many theatrical traditions were refined and passed on — will have a cast of seven, Pappas told Playbill.com.

"I've been pursuing Lynn and Steve for years," he said. "I'm a huge fan of theirs. They're so incredibly talented and versatile as writers. I've been pursuing Graciela because I'm her number one fan. She's what the theatre's all about. She's everybody's mentor, everybody's idol. I've been trying to get her to come here, and almost got her a few times. I gave it one more try and the timing is right." The Glorious Ones "is something they've been working on off and on for a few seasons, but now it's time to really zero in on it," Pappas said. "I've been pursuing the team for five years, but not that particular show. In my pursuit of them for this season, this show was on their radar."

What about The Glorious Ones appealed to Pappas?

"I like that it's about the theatre," he said. "It's a paean to actors and artists. It's a backstage musical, but it's about a group of people from hundreds of years ago, whose lives — though very different than ours — are not all that different from artists and actors today. I found it very funny and very sexy and exciting. It's also filled with the potential for movement, which makes it brilliant for [Graciela Daniele]."

"I Was Here," a song from the developing show, has been sung in concert by Brian Stokes Mitchell and is in the Ahrens & Flaherty songbook for cabaret singers to take a crack at. Also from the show is a song called "Opposite You," recently recorded by Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley.

In The Glorious Ones "we follow the lives of a specific group of people throughout their careers," Pappas said. "It happens to be a group of people who are itinerant and whose lives are always uprooted. It's not a conventional plot, but we stay very tuned into the characters."

The writing credit for the show is "words by Lynn Ahrens" and "music by Stephen Flaherty." They co-wrote the libretto to Dessa Rose (at Lincoln Center Theater) and Seussical (on Broadway).

Pappas said he's thrilled Pittsburgh Public is part of the development of a show that is still being written and shaped. The Glorious Ones will be a PPT production, and play April 19-May 20, 2007.

Meanwhile, The Secret Letters of Jackie and Marilyn is billed this way: "This world premiere depicts a friendship between the two most glamorous women on the planet. As the paparazzi and the politicians close in on them, Jackie and Marilyn cling to each other for solace and salvation, and two lives fated for glory careen towards disaster. A seductive mix of history, gossip and fiction, the play is directed by Leonard Foglia (Master Class, Dead Man Walking, On Golden Pond). Hampton and Foglia return to the Public after their successful collaboration on season 27's Paper Doll."

The 2006-07 Pittsburgh Public season will also include a return of the popular solo play, The Chief, about Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney; as well a visit by The Second City; and a series of readings of new works.

For more information, visit www.ppt.org.

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