The new musical by Ron Sproat (book), Richard Engquist and Frank Evans (co-lyricists) and Doug Katsaros (music) draws its inspiration (but not its plot) from the classic 1922 Anne Nichols comedy, Abie's Irish Rose. It's now about a Jewish boy falling in love with a Caribbean girl, rather than an Irish girl.
Katsaros' Broadway credits include music for Laughing Room Only starring Jackie Mason, musical supervisor and conductor of Footloose, dance and vocal arrangements for The Life, music for Elizabeth and Essex, with lyrics by Engquist and book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble. He also directed the original production of Abie's Island Rose.
Abie's Island Rose had its regional premiere at the Hollywood Playhouse in Hollywood, FL, with the original New York cast, Heather Mac Rae, Keith Lee Grant, Steven Rosen and Carla Woods, who are all heard on the CD. The musical was named Best of the Year by the Palm Beach Post.
In the musical, "Mac Rae is a modern but dismayed Jewish mother, Madeline Feinman, whose son, Abie, a medical student, falls for an Afro-Caribbean nurse, Rose." Cabaret singer and actress Mac Rae's Broadway credits include Hair, Falsettos and A Catered Affair. Keith Lee Grant (Marie Christine) plays Rose's island-priest father, comic actor Steve Rosen (original casts of Spamalot and The Farnsworth Invention) is Abie, and Carla Woods (All Shook Up's national company) is Rose.
According to the writers, "The musical takes place on two mythical islands: Tornados in the Caribbean and Manhattan on the Hudson."
The CD is available at OriginalCastRecords.com, Amazon.com and selected Barnes and Noble stores.
The track listing includes:
1. "Two Islands" The Company
2. "That Was Him" Mac Rae and Rosen
3. "Looking for a Rainbow" Mac Rae
4. "The Omens" Grant & Woods
5. "A Bit of Surprise" Woods & Rosen
6. "That Girl" Rosen
7. "Something Else" Rosen & Woods
8. "Crazy Mixed Up Me" Rosen and Mac Rae
9. "Somewhere in the World" Grant
10. "Liberal" Mac Rae
11. "All for Her" The Company
12. "Welcome to Manhattan" The Company
13. "Nice While It Lasted" Woods
14. "The Way It's Supposed to Be" Grant
15. "Late Night T.V. " Rosen
16. "He Used to Whistle" Mac Rae and Woods
17. "Two Islands Finale" The Company
Emmy Award-nominated Sproat served as head writer for the ABC cult classic "Dark Shadows," currently available on over 15 volumes of DVDs as well as in syndication. He also wrote the book for the award-winning Back Home, The War Brides Musical, honored by the 2007 NYMF Awards and the 2004 Spirit Awards.
Lyricists Engquist and Evans are both members of the steering committee of BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.
Engquist received the Outer Critics Circle Award for his lyrics for Kuni-Leml in 1984-85. The JRT staging subsequently moved to an independent Off-Broadway run. JRT revived it in 1998 and a recording followed.
Evans, lyricist of Back Home, was awarded the Jerry Bock Award for lyrics for a musical version of the Kaufman-Ferber classic, Dinner at Eight, seen at the Chicago Stages Festival and London's Drury Lane. He is completing lyrics for a new musical about Howard Hughes and is a contributor to Hangin' Out, opening in Los Angeles in January 2009. He is producing director of the not-for profit Musical Mondays Theatre Lab, currently hosted at The Snapple Theater Center.