Casts Set for New Musicals In the Heights and Willy & Rupert at O'Neill Center

News   Casts Set for New Musicals In the Heights and Willy & Rupert at O'Neill Center Casts have been announced for the remaining two new musicals at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's 2005 Music Theater Conference which runs through Aug. 14.

The projects undergo development with the selected collaborators during July and August at the Waterford, Connecticut, venue with professional actors, directors and dramaturgs, and will then be presented in public readings.

Next up at the event is In the Heights (July 23-31). Quiara Alegria Hudes pens the book to Lin-Manuel Miranda's score for this "original hip-hop-salsa-merengue musical about two days in the life of Washington Heights, a vibrant immigrant neighborhood at the top of Manhattan."

Thomas Kail directs a cast that includes Natalie Cortez, Janet Dacal, Robin DeJesus, Huey Dunbar, Chris Jackson, Doreen Montalvo, Javier Munoz, Rick Negron, Sheena Marie Ortiz, Matt Saldivar, Monica Salazar and Nancy Ticotin. Alex Lacamoire is music director/pianist, Bill Sherman is co-arranger and Doug Hinrichs serves as percussionist.

The final show is Willy & Rupert (Aug 6-14). Dina Gregory handles book and lyrics while Sam Piperato composes the music which follows "two eccentric lives, one extraordinary friendship and an ambitious quest: to secure a place in The London Times obituaries." The two title characters undergo a mid-life existential crisis that sets them on their way to misadventure in "this poignant comedy with a big heart."

Victoria Bussert directs the cast that features John Sloman, Michael McCormick, Alison Briner, Emily Kreiger, Becca Ayers, Andree O'Shee, Fabio Polanco and Cole Burden. Jana Zielonka is music director. Laura Bell Bundy, Polly Pen and Daniel Reichard were featured in the cast of Blood Drive: A Musical Triptych, the first of the three new musical works at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's 2005 Music Theater Conference which played July 10-17.

Eleanor Reissa directed the work penned by The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee's Tony Award-winning librettist Rachel Sheinkin with music by Joel Derfner. Ray Fellman served as music director.

Tickets are on sale through the O'Neill box office at (860) 443-1238. Outdoor performances are moved indoors in the event of rain. Some material may not be appropriate for children.

New musical works that have come out of development at the Center in its 28-year history range from the 1979 Tony Award winner Nine through the 2004 Tony Award winner Avenue Q and include more than 100 new works by such award winning talents as Tan Dun, Kirsten Childs, Andrew Lippa, Brian Crawley and Jeanine Tesori.

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center was founded in 1964 and based in Waterford, CT. Programs at the Center include the Puppetry Conference, Playwrights Conference, Critics Institute, Music Theater Conference and the National Theater Institute. The Monte Cristo Cottage, O'Neill's childhood home, is also owned and operated by the group.

For more information, visit the website at www.theoneill.org.

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