Bright Lights, Big City Gets Another Chance to Shine With Revised Mounting in Philly

News   Bright Lights, Big City Gets Another Chance to Shine With Revised Mounting in Philly The premiere of the revised version of composer-lyricist-librettist Paul Scott Goodman's Off-Broadway rock opera Bright Lights, Big City, based on the novel of the same name, opens June 17 way off Broadway — in Philadelphia.
Jeremy Kushnier in Bright Lights, Big City.
Jeremy Kushnier in Bright Lights, Big City. Photo by Mark Garvin

Performances began at Prince Music Theater June 14 and continue to June 25 (originally announced as July 2).

Broadway's Footloose and Rent star Jeremy Kushnier plays Jamie, the coked-up wastrel bouncing in the pinball machine of 1980s Manhattan in the Prince's staging, directed by Stafford Arima (Altar Boyz and the London and Paper Mill Playhouse's Ragtime).

Arima previously told Playbill.com the staging will be "abstract," "universal" and "timeless" despite the 1984 setting. "It'll be a much more abstracted presentation versus a literal experience," he said.

The cast (in alphabetical order) includes Kelli Barrett (as Amanda), Don Daniels, Christopher deProphetis, Andy Karl (as Tad), Alex Keiper, Marian Murphy (as Mother), Orfeh (as Clara), Jonathan Shade (as Michael, Jamie's brother), Julie Tolivar (as Vicky) and Alyse Wojciechowski.

Musical director is Jesse Vargas; Andrew Palermo choreographs. *

The rock opera is based on the novel by Jay McInerney. The score and approach to the story have been revised since its 1999 world premiere at Off-Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop. Scottish Goodman was a singing narrator character in his own piece back then, sharing thoughts on success, excess and New York as the cast of characters played out the McInerney tale of a young man lost in Manhattan in the 1980s.

Goodman's presence in the work was excised in subsequent rewrites. The new score was recorded for a world premiere album on the Ghostlight/Sh-K-Boom label, and some tweaks have been made to the piece since the album's release in 2005, Arima told Playbill.com.

According to Prince, "It's 1984. Fresh off the bus from Kansas, Jamie works as a fact-checker for a major New York magazine. His wife, a fast-rising super-model, just left him; he's still reeling from the death of his mother a year earlier. He plunges into a New York night life of partying, drinking, and drugs with his glib best friend, and as a result he's on the verge of getting fired. A uniquely moving and touching coming-of-age story, Bright Lights, Big City is set against the backdrop of the excessive yet glossy chaos of the 1980's. Composer Paul Scott Goodman has created a pop and rock infused score that generates a strong musical heartbeat for the hit novella and movie…"

The design team includes Todd Ivins (set), Tyler Micoleau (lighting), David Pisani (sound) and Karen Ann Ledger (costumes).

On Arima's 2006-07 agenda is directing A Little Night Music for California Music Circus in Sacramento and the world premiere of the musical, Ace, a co-production between Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (starting Sept. 6) and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

For more information about Prince Music Theater, which recently premiered Cole Porter's The Pirate, visit www.princemusictheater.org.

From Left: Orfeh, Jeremy Kushnier and Andy Karl in <i>Bright Lights, Big City</i>.
From Left: Orfeh, Jeremy Kushnier and Andy Karl in Bright Lights, Big City. Photo by Mark Garvin
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