Director Ray Roderick and his designers have made the auditorium of Theater B at 37 Arts the holding area for all the creatures who arrived two by two. (A sound design of grunt, snorts and squawks greets the crowd as they wait for the show to begin.)
Actors venture into the pens, scramble across overhead walkways and open windows to reveal pieces of sky on their Biblical journey. The story of Noah, his mission and his familial tensions is played to the animals, who become confessors to the characters.
Previews began Oct. 14.
The Ark has music by Michael McLean and book and lyrics by McLean and Kevin Kelly, who have been developing their work for more than a decade. Erik Orton and Karen Walter Goodwin are producing, and Ray Roderick (I Love a Piano, The Music Man national tour) directs and choreographs.
The cast of The Ark also includes Annie Golden (Broadway's The Full Monty, Hair), Marie-France Arcilla, D.B Bonds (The Last Five Years, Les Miserables), Justin Brill (All Shook Up, Mamma Mia!), Julie Foldesi (Little Women), Janeece Aisha Freeman, Jacquelyn Piro (Under The Bridge, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon), Chuck Ragsdale and Rob Sutton (We Will Rock You). The musical aims to take a "fresh, contemporary look at the classic story of Noah by showing us the back story of his family," according to producers Erik Orton and Karen Walter Goodwin. "Living inside the now infamous floating community to escape a drowning world, we see that when facing the challenges of life, we're all in the same boat. The animals come two by two and a family's story of hope, love, and strength is brought to life…"
The creative team includes set designer Beowulf Boritt, costume designer Lisa Zinni, lighting designer Eric Haugan and sound designer Ryan Powers.
Musical direction and orchestrations are by Joe Baker (Blood Brothers, Footloose, Jackie Mason's Laughing Room Only).
Michael McLean said in production notes, "Our goal in writing The Ark was to explore the story of Noah in a unique and entertaining way. With music that ranges from pop to gospel, audiences will certainly relate to how Noah and his family overcome challenges. Living in the craziness of today's world, we see that this ancient story is now more relevant than ever."
The show was seen as part of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals and was produced by The Village Theatre, the respected Equity musical theatre company in suburban Seattle in 2002-03.
Zmed appeared in Broadway's original Grease and its 1994 revival, TV's "T.J. Hooker," Hollywood's "Bachelor Party" and "Grease 2." Zmed knows from rudders: He was Noah (as well as Adam) in Steven Schwartz's Children of Eden at Paper Mill Playhouse.
37 Arts Theatre is at 450 W. 37th Street.
Tickets are $66.25. Performances are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7 PM, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (212) 560-8912, by calling Ticketmaster (212) 307-4100 or going to www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.thearkmusical.com.
Lyricist-librettist-composer McLean has written music and lyrics for more than 20 inspirational and Christian pop albums and has sold nearly two million recordings since his first release in 1983. They include "You're Not Alone," "Stay With Me," "Celebrating the Light," "A New Kind of Love Song," "One Heart in the Right Place," "You've Always Been There for Me" and the best-selling "The Forgotten Carols." He has written three books, each with accompanying CDs: "Distant Serenade"; "Hold On the Light Will Come: And Other Lessons My Songs Have Taught Me"; and "The Forgotten Carols." He has performed a theatrical version of The Forgotten Carols to sold-out audiences throughout the United States since 1991. He was the original story writer, producer and director of the film "Nora's Christmas Gift" starring Celeste Holm. He also produced and co-authored the original holiday television classic "Mr. Krueger's Christmas" starring James Stewart.
Lyricist-librettist Kevin Kelly and his wife, Kahliel Kelly, founded The People's Theater. He joined Osmond Studios as associate producer during the heyday of the "Donny and Marie Show" and subsequently created award-winning ad campaigns at Bonneville Productions and Ogilvy & Mather. He is currently a professor in the Department of Communications at Brigham Young University.
The story of Noah has been interpreted for the musical stage by others, including composer Richard Rodgers, lyricist Martin Charnin and librettist Peter Stone (drawing from Clifford Odets' "The Flowering Peach"). Their Two by Two played Broadway starring Danny Kaye as Noah in 1970.