At Goodman, Jersey Boys Writers Will Team With Tune for Musical; Dennehy Will Do Desire

News   At Goodman, Jersey Boys Writers Will Team With Tune for Musical; Dennehy Will Do Desire Goodman Theatre in Chicago announced four shows to play its 2008-09 season, officially confirming earlier reports that Tommy Tune will direct Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman's new musical, Turn of the Century.
Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice Photo by Aubrey Reuben

News of that musical, by the Tony Award-nominated librettists of the smash Jersey Boys, had leaked out in 2007. The show will use popular tunes to tell an original story. It's expected to launch the new Goodman season in the fall.

Goodman artistic director Robert Falls announced the upcoming slate on Jan. 4.

Brian Dennehy will star in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's 1924 family melodrama Desire Under the Elms, interpreted by director Falls as "the centerpiece of the larger exploration of Eugene O'Neill's work in the 21st century."

In addition, the Goodman will stage the world premiere of the new commission Ruined by MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient Lynn Nottage, directed by Kate Whoriskey; and will also co-produce (with Chicago's Silk Road Theatre Project) Philip Kan Gotanda's Yohen, directed by Steve Scott.

Complete dates and creative teams will be announced at a later date. Additional productions will also be announced. *

Nine-time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune (Grand Hotel, Nine, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) will direct the world premiere of the musical Turn of the Century, billed as "a romantic comedy and trip through the American songbook."

In it, "Dixie Wilson's a singer who can't catch a break — with a gig or a guy. Billy Clark's a piano player who knows the songs and loves the ladies. The friction between them is immediate; so is the chemistry. At the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve 1999, the impossible happens — and together, Billy and Dixie steal the songs that make the whole world sing, becoming the superstars they've always dreamed of being, at the Turn of the Century."

Falls calls it "a trip through the American songbook, featuring some of the most popular music of the past 100 years."

Falls and Dennehy, longtime collaborators who worked together on the Goodman/Broadway stagings of Death of a Salesman and Long Day's Journey Into Night, will partner again for O'Neill's 1924 play, Desire Under the Elms, in 2009. The production will be part of a 2009 "showcase/celebration of O'Neill's work as it is being produced globally today." For the celebration, Falls stated, "I turn to a handful of the foremost local, national and international companies who are delivering bold, inventive performances of O'Neill's work. I have always believed that his words transcend time and place; his plays have been at the foundation of my 20 years at the Goodman, each of which featured a towering performance by Brian. I am now interested in expanding this relationship in the way that only the Goodman's festival celebrations enable."

(In the current Goodman season, playwright Horton Foote is the focus of celebration, this spring.)

Falls' history with Eugene O'Neill at the Goodman has spanned four productions: The Iceman Cometh (1990), A Touch of the Poet (1996), Long Day's Journey Into Night (2002) and Hughie (2004).

In Desire, "Elder Ephraim Cabot returns to his remote New England farm with his third wife — the young, alluring, headstrong Abbie — setting his three disapproving grown sons on an emotional rollercoaster and bitter fight for their inheritance. When Ephraim's youngest son Eben sets his sights on Abbie, the resulting tempest brings tragic consequences."

Falls called Nottage's Ruined (expected for late 2008) "a gutsy, complex piece of theatre that we've commissioned and have been developing together for the past several years."

The work is set in the present day Democratic Republic of the Congo, and "centers around Mama Nadi, a savvy businesswoman who, in the midst of a complex civil war, protects and profits from the women whose bodies have become a battleground."

Nottage's work includes Intimate Apparel, Fabulation and Crumbs from the Table of Joy.

The co-production of Yohen by Philip Kan Gotanda will play Sept. 18-Nov. 2, 2008 at Silk Road Theatre. In it, "a divorced Japanese woman and an African American GI meet in post-World War II Japan, fall in love, and marry. After nearly four decades of defending their relationship against prevailing prejudices, they now live in a quiet, accepting Los Angeles suburb. Their seemingly durable marriage, however, is in danger and the things that originally brought them together now threaten to tear them apart. More than a study of clashing cultures, Yohen is a poetically resonant story of two partners who discover that as environments change, so do intimate relationships — and love, however time-tested, is never a constant."

For more information, visit www.GoodmanTheatre.org.