Carolee Carmello Will Play Merman in Reading of Broadway-Aimed Presenting Ethel Merman

News   Carolee Carmello Will Play Merman in Reading of Broadway-Aimed Presenting Ethel Merman Three-time Tony nominee Carolee Carmello, who can currently be seen in the new Broadway musical Finding Neverland, will play late musical theatre giant Ethel Merman in an upcoming private industry reading of the new play with music Presenting Ethel Merman.
Carolee Carmello
Carolee Carmello

Written and directed by Drama Desk winner Richard Sabellico and stage-managed by Adolpho Blaire, the play is based upon Brian Kellow's biography "Ethel Merman: A Life" and features music from such Merman hits as Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun, Anything Goes, Call Me Madam and Panama Hattie.

Blaire told Playbill.com rehearsals are currently underway for the Oct. 13 reading. A 2016 workshop will likely follow, and the hope is for a Broadway arrival in early 2017.

In addition to Broadway favorite Carmello, the Equity staged reading also features two-time Tony nominee and Emmy winner Penny Fuller as Merman's best friend Benay Venuta with Burke Moses playing two of Merman's husbands, Bob Six and Robert Levitt.

Rounding out the cast are Jeremy Benton, Richard Bell, Michael Glavan, Casey Shane and Anne Torsiglieri.

Presenting Ethel Merman, according to press notes, "sets out to reacquaint today’s audiences with not only Ethel’s larger than life persona, but also with the era which Merman dominated; the Golden Age of Musical Theatre. Although that era, the 30s through the 60s, may be a dim memory to the current theatregoing public, this new play illuminates the vitality and originality of a singular talent as well as a burdgeoning artform that’s indiginous to America. Presenting Ethel Merman showcases not only the public persona but also the private one—a lady vulnerable and riddled with self doubt."

Carmello was a Tony nominee for her performances in Scandalous, Lestat and Parade.

Merman received a Tony Award for her performance in Call Me Madam. She was also Tony-nominated for Happy Hunting and the original production of Gypsy and received a Special Tony Award in 1972.

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