Bewitched Again: Pal Joey, with Hoff, Channing, Plimpton, Returns to Broadway

News   Bewitched Again: Pal Joey, with Hoff, Channing, Plimpton, Returns to Broadway
 
Pal Joey, the groundbreaking 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical that focuses on a selfish Chicago club performer and his decent girlfriend, cougar mistress and dreams of owning his own nightspot, returns to Broadway Nov. 14 with a refreshed libretto by Tony Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg.

Pal Joey stars Christian Hoff, Stockard Channing and Martha Plimpton
Pal Joey stars Christian Hoff, Stockard Channing and Martha Plimpton Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Tony-winning director Joe Mantello (Assassins, Wicked, Take Me Out) stages the new production for the Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54. Tony winner Christian Hoff (Jersey Boys) plays charming Joey Evans (a role created by Gene Kelly), with Tony winner Stockard Channing (Joe Egg) as Vera Simpson, the older dame who funds his dreams (she's famously "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" by him). Tony nominee Martha Plimpton (Top Girls) plays Gladys Bumps, a club performer.

The new Greenberg script based on John O'Hara's original (and on O'Hara's short stories) reinvents some scenes, situations and characters, and some songs by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart have been reassigned or restored.

Audiences can expect to hear a song for Joey that was cut prior to the 1940 Broadway premiere (it's called "I'm Talking to My Pal"). Also interpolated into this revival (according to the Playbill of the first preview) are the Rodgers & Hart songs "Are You My Love?" from the 1936 film "Dancing Pirate" and "I Still Believe in You" from the 1930 musical Simple Simon.

Opening night is Dec. 11. Pal Joey is a limited engagement through Feb. 15, 2009. The musical is produced in association with Marc Platt.

Music direction by is Tony Award winner Paul Gemignani, with choreography by Tony nominee Graciela Daniele (Ragtime). Creating a population of Chicagoans are Robert Clohessy (as Mike), Mamma Mia! veteran Jenny Fellner (as good girl Linda English), Urinetown alumnus Daniel Marcus (as Ludlow), Wicked actor Steven Skybell (as Ernest), Timothy J. Alex, Brian Barry, Bahiyah Sayyed Gaines, Lisa Gajda, Anthony Holds, Nadine Isenegger, Mark Morettini, Kathryn Mowat Murphy, Abbey O'Brien, Hayley Podschun, Matthew Risch, Krista Saab and Eric Sciotto.

Pal Joey is considered one of the landmark "link" musicals between fizzy old-fashioned musicals of the 1920s and '30s and more psychologically charged shows of the '40s and beyond in which darker colors of characters were revealed. Pal Joey is a sort of musical comedy character study about ambitious performer Joey Evans, who seeks the affection of a married woman in the hope that she'll fund his dream of owning a nightclub (a ballet called "Chez Joey" closes Act One). Vera Simpson dryly sings "Bewitched" and "What Is a Man?" as well as the duet with Joey, "In Our Little Den (of Iniquity)."

In past productions, the score has also included "Happy Hunting Horn," "A Great Big Town (Chicago)," "You Mustn't Kick It Around," "Take Him," "Zip," "Plant You Now, Dig You Later," "I Could Write a Book," "Do It the Hard Way" and "The Flower Garden of My Heart."

The show was a year-long success in its original production (starring Gene Kelly and Vivienne Segal) but was a bigger hit when it was revived on Broadway in the 1950s (with Harold Lang and Segal).

This is the first Broadway revival of Pal Joey in over 30 years.

According to Roundabout, "Set in Chicago in the late 1930s, Pal Joey is the story of Joey Evans, a brash, scheming song and dance man with dreams of owning his own nightclub. Joey abandons his wholesome girlfriend Linda English, to charm a rich, married older woman, Vera Simpson, in the hope that she'll set him up in business."

The design team includes two-time Tony Award winner Scott Pask (sets), five-time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long (costumes), Paul Gallo (lights), Tony Meola (sound), Don Sebesky (orchestrator) and Eric Stern (dance arranger).

The 1952 Broadway production of Pal Joey won three Tony Awards including Best Choreography and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical. A film of the musical was made in 1957, starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak. Bob Fosse received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in the 1963 production. The 1976 production at Circle in the Square starred Dixie Carter as reporter Melba (a role that is not in the new version).

Pal Joey was featured in the second season of Encores! at New York City Center in a 1995 concert version starring Patti LuPone and Peter Gallagher.

Channing won a Tony Award for her performance in Roundabout Theatre Company's Joe Egg in 1985, and also received Tony nominations for her acclaimed performances in The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, Four Baboons Adoring the Sun and Roundabout Theatre Company's The Lion in Winter. In 2002 she won two Emmy Awards, one for her role as First Lady Abbey Bartlet in NBC's "The West Wing" and the other for her performance as Judy Shepard in "The Matthew Shepard Story." She was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe when she re-created her role in the film "Six Degrees…" She was Rizzo in the film "Grease."

Christian Hoff won a 2006 Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys. He was also an original cast member of The Who's Tommy.

Plimpton is a two-time Tony Award nominee for her recent performances in Top Girls and The Coast of Utopia.

Pal Joey plays Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM with Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 PM.

Studio 54 is located in Manhattan at 254 West 54th Street. For more information visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.

Tickets priced $36.50-$121.50 are also available by visiting www.paljoeyonbroadway.com or by calling Roundabout Ticket Services at (212) 719-1300.

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