Gabriel Barre, not Darko Tresnjak, will helm Goodspeed Musicals' revival of King of Hearts, the cult musical about an American soldier's encounter with a small French village during World War I, the Connecticut not-for-profit announced.
Tresnjak was awarded a grant and is developing a new work by Huntington Theatre Company in Boston and withdrew from the Goodspeed gig, making room for Barre, who was attached to the show when Goodspeed originally expressed interest in the project in recent seasons. Joe Farrell is still attached to play the title role; the full cast has not been announced.
Dates for the staging at the Goodspeed Opera House are slightly changed, to Oct. 11-Dec. 22 (they were originally announced as Oct. 4-Dec. 15).
The unique musical flopped on Broadway in 1978 after its book was altered, but the show has a cult following. The revival production uses the script as the authors — the late librettist Steve Tesich and songwriters Peter Link (lyrics) and Jacob Brackman (music) — first intended. (Joseph Stein replaced Steve Tesich in the process leading to Broadway.)
The work had an initial viewing in the Tesich version at the Westport Country Playhouse in 1977, directed by A.J. Antoon. Ron Field would stage the Broadway bow. At $1.8 million, it was briefly the biggest money loser in Broadway history, reports historian Steven Suskin, in "More Opening Nights on Broadway." Based on a 1966 French film, "Le Roi de Couer," the story unfolds as a young World War I American soldier stumbles upon the curious inhabitants of a small French village and finds refuge and love while saving the village from the Germans.
Farrell appeared as Henrik in Night Music. Peggy Hickey (Goodspeed's Brigadoon, On the Twentieth Century and A Little Night Music) will choreograph. Barre's credits include Off-Broadway's john & jen and Summer of '42, as well as a number of revivals and new works for Goodspeed.
Casting has not been officially announced for King of Hearts. For ticket information, call (860) 873-8668 or visit goodspeed.org.
Goodspeed Musicals, "dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre," is the recipient of two Tony Awards for its achievements. In addition to its on stage productions, Goodspeed also maintains the Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and publishes Show Music, The Musical Theatre Magazine. Annie and Man of La Mancha had formative stagings there prior to international success.
— By Kenneth Jones