Captains Courageous: The Musical, the Rudyard Kipling-based tuner about life on the high seas, comes ashore in previews Jan. 12 at Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage I, starring Treat Williams and Brandon Espinoza.
Williams, known for the film "Hair" and Broadway productions of Over Here, Pirates of Penzance and Grease, plays the Portuguese fisherman, Manuel, who rescues Harvey Cheyne (Espinoza), a rich industrialist's son, from drowning and teaches him about friendship and responsibility.
The 16-member cast, announced Dec. 15, 1998 includes Erick Buckley, Dick Decareau, Michael DeVries, J. Lee Flynn, Pete Herber (various companies of Les Miserables), George Kmeck (Toronto's Sunset Blvd.), Norm Lewis (Side Show, A New Brain), Michael X. Martin (Les Miz, 1776), Michael Mulheren (Titanic), Gary Schwartz, Dan Sharkey, Daniel Siford, Jim Stanek (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) and Erik Stein.
The company will sing a score by Patrick Cook (lyrics and book) and Frederick Freyer (music) under the direction of MTC artistic director Lynne Meadow. Official opening is Feb. 16, 1999.
The staging is the New York premiere, following a production at the Goodspeed Opera House's Terris Theatre. The musical is based on the Kipling source as well as the motion picture of the same name. Musical staging is by Jerry Mitchell, whose choreography credits include the Broadway revival of Grease, Off-Broadway's Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the national tour of Jekyll & Hyde and the dawning Broadway revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Orchestrations are by Jonathan Tunick, with musical direction by Robert Gustafson. Designers are Derek McLane (sets), Catherine Zuber (costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lighting) and Otts Munderloh (sound).
Cook and Freyer have been writing musicals together for more than 10 years. Their musical, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, was commissioned by Ford's Theatre. Their new musical, 97 Orchard Street, is in development.
Treat Williams may be best known for his movie roles in "Prince of City," "The Devil's Own," "1941," "Once Upon a Time in America" and "Mulholland Falls." On TV, he was Stanley Kowalski opposite Ann-Margret in ABC's "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Espinoza has appeared on Broadway in Big, Les Miserables and The Will Rogers Follies. He is currently a student at the LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts.
Meadow's directorial work includes Leslie Ayvazian's Nine Armenians, Donald Margulies' The Loman Family Picnic, A Small Family Business (Broadway); Absent Friends, Woman in Mind (Drama Desk nomination), Lee Blessing's Eleemosynary and many other plays.
MTC Stage I is at City Center, 131 West 55th St. (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues). Tickets are $50. Call (212) 581-1212.
-- By Kenneth Jones