Broadway Stars Play Scott & Zelda in NJ Premiere of Wildhorn's Waiting for the Moon

News   Broadway Stars Play Scott & Zelda in NJ Premiere of Wildhorn's Waiting for the Moon Jarrod Emick and Lauren Kennedy will be the Jazz Age couple F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in the summer 2005 world premiere of the Frank Wildhorn-Jack Murphy musical Waiting for the Moon.
Jarrod Emick and Lauren Kennedy
Jarrod Emick and Lauren Kennedy

Vincent Marini, producing artistic director of the Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center in Marlton, NJ, will stage the new show at his venue July 16-31. Opening is July 20. This marks the first world premiere for the four-year-old Lenape center, a 1,500-seat presenting and producing house which operates June-October.

The Waiting for the Moon creative team includes choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Fosse), orchestrator Kim Scharnberg (Little Women) scenic designer Rob Odorisio, lighting designer Howell Binkley and costume designer Janine McCabe. Ron Melrose is musical director. Projections are by Michael Clark.

Emick appeared in Broadway's Damn Yankees revival (taking home a Tony Award for playing the star ballplayer), The Boy From Oz and The Rocky Horror Show. Kennedy played Nellie Forbush in Trevor Nunn's South Pacific in London, and appeared in Broadway's Side Show and Sunset Blvd. (also the national tour).

Composer Wildhorn and lyricist-librettist Jack Murphy previously teamed on Broadway's The Civil War (Murphy was credited as one of the project's three authors, with Gregory Boyd and Wildhorn), which also toured in a leaner conceptual concert version.

Waiting for the Moon was previously titled Scott & Zelda: The Other Side of Paradise. Wildhorn and Murphy have also written the musical Vienna — The Last Waltz, aiming for a European premiere in spring 2006. Wildhorn's Broadway musicals include Dracula, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Jekyll & Hyde. Earlier this year, Waiting for the Moon received a reading in New York City. It was the first reading of the show since major rewrites and revisions began in October 2004 (two new songs were added, and Marini signed on as director). In it, Scott and Zelda were played by husband and wife Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell.

The Lenape (pronounced "LENNA-pee") production is being produced by Roy Miller and Vincent Marini.

The cast will total 19. Marini, who directed Miss Saigon, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line and a Barrymore Award-nominated production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for Lenape, said, "In a lot of ways it does have the feel of an old-fashioned book musical, but the method of storytelling is a very modern and cinematic. It's a uniquely American love story about two people who really did have a storybook love affair, but made the decision to become celebrities — and how their relationship changes because of that."

Marini said the work is not strict Fitzgerald biography, although it does draw on specific incidents in the life of the couple. "We don't confine ourselves to their lives," he explained. "It's about two people who fall in love and what celebrity does to their love — and it's about second chances."

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was the hot Jazz Age novelist who wrote "This Side of Paradise," "The Beautiful and Damned," "The Great Gatsby," "Tender Is the Night" and "The Last Tycoon." His wife, Zelda, slipped into madness. New York and the Riviera were their playgrounds.

The musical style of the show "is very different for Frank," Marini said. Don't expect the driving pop of Jekyll & Hyde. "He channels Cole Porter, Gershwin, Irving Berlin…"

It's also a "high-energy dance show" with ensemble numbers. Marini said choreographer Blankenbuehler is drawing from a pool of New York's best theatre dancers. The show will rehearse in New York City and then southern New Jersey.

Outside producers are expected to attend the July run, but this spring and early summer Marini and company are focusing on the New Jersey engagement and not on a wide future.

"We think this has the potential of being a Broadway show, but we're looking now at making it the best to can be, and learning from it," Marini said. "If we do a great show…a future will follow."

The cast includes Ben Dibble as Ben Cameron (The Reporter), Sean Palmer (as Edouard), Leslie Alexander (as Mrs. Sayer) and Courtney Laine Mazza, Mike McGowan, Jordan Cable, Terri Dixon, Alison Cimmet, Tim Federle, Keith Kuhl, Rachel Bress, Kristin Piro, Brandi Wooten, Nova Bergeron and Scott Greer.

Marini met Wildhorn through an association with singer Linda Eder, who sang in concert in the first season at Lenape in 2002. A concert version of Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde debuted at Lenape in 2004 and has future tour plans. After the success of J&H there, Wildhorn mentioned the Scott and Zelda project to Marini and discussions led to the full staging.

For tickets and information about Waiting for the Moon, (856) 983-3366 or visit www.sjtheater.com.

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