Though it technically started at the beginning of June (and Natalie Merchant had the first show -- a special concert engagement at the Neil Simon Theatre), the 1999-2000 Broadway season begins in earnest when John Pielmeier's Voices in the Dark starts previews at Broadway's Longacre Theatre (220 W. 48th Street) on Aug. 1. Just days ago, the show's first preview date was moved up from July 31, allowing for one more final dress rehearsal.
Voices had a pre-Broadway engagement at Stamford, CT's Rich Forum, running July 16-25 before the move to the Longacre. The try-out was reportedly hampered during several performances by technical difficulties with the sound, which also forced the cancellation of the intended opening night performance, July 18.
Two-time Tony Award winning actress Judith Ivey (Hurlyburly and Steaming) stars as a radio talk show host who finds herself menaced by a mysterious caller. The production is slated to officially open Aug. 12.
Co-starring with Ivey will be Raphael Sbarge (Broadway's Curse of an Aching Heart) and Off-Broadway veteran Zach Grenier (A Question of Mercy). Sbarge also appeared in Broadway's Twilight of the Golds, and in the films "Independence Day" and "Message in a Bottle." Grenier recently starred in Rhinoceros at The Jean Cocteau Repertory.
Rounding out the cast are John Ahlin, Peter Bartlett (The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told), Nicole Fonarow, Tom Stechschulte and Lenny Blackburn. Ahlin, Bartlett and Fonarow were among the cast when the show premiered at NJ's George Street Playhouse in 1998. The play was originally directed by Pielmeier himself back in October 1994 at Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre. Gates McFadden (of "Star Trek: The Next Generation") had starred in the show's Feb. 1998 bow at The George Street, with a planned 1998 Broadway production postponed so McFadden could film a "Next Generation" movie. Plans to bring the actress to Broadway fell through in late 1998.
The upcoming mounting will feature the director, Christopher Ashley, and the design team of the show's run at George Street: David Gallo (set), David C. Woolard (costumes) and Donald Holder (lighting).
Including her two Tony Award-winning roles, Ivey's extensive Broadway credits include: Bedroom Farce, Piaf, Steaming (Tony and Drama Desk awards), Hurlyburly (Tony and Drama Desk awards), Blithe Spirit, Precious Sons, Park Your Car in Harvard Yard (Tony nomination).
Pielmeier's other works include Agnes of God, Willi, which he appeared in at Seattle's ACT in 1991; Steeple Chase, The Boys of Winter and Impassioned Embraces.
For tickets ($25 - $55) to the Stamford Center pre-Broadway engagement, call (203) 325-4466.
Broadway Voice tickets range from ($35-$60) and go on sale July 18, call Telecharge (212) 239-6200.