Richard M. Parison Jr., who was Barrymore nominated for his direction the two-actor show in Philadelphia, again directs Ben Dibble and Tony Braithwaite — two of Philly's most celebrated character actors — as Jed and Boyd, respectively.
The show about a backers' audition for a new musical called The Big Bang was written by composer Jed Feuer (Off-Broadway's Eating Raoul) with book and lyrics by Boyd Graham (Eating Raoul). The Big Bang was first presented in 1997 at the PSI Theater at the Durham Arts Council with Feuer and Graham playing the roles. Instead of hiring actors for the backers' audition, the conceit of the show goes, two writers play a cast of thousands, with the help of a pianist named Albert. The quirky small-cast, presentational spoof of musicals prefigured such shows as The Musical of Musicals and [title of show], which have played Off-Broadway in commercial and not-for-profit scenarios.
The Big Bang plays Chicago Theatre Downstairs, inaugurating the new 300-seat space in the historic building at 175 North State Street. A nine week run is planned. Opening is July 11.
After playing to rave reviews and sold-out houses for seven weeks at the Act II Playhouse in Philly, The Big Bang moved to the Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia Feb. 11, 2005, for a run to March 6.
Braithwaite won a Barrymore Award (for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical, 2005) for playing Boyd in The Big Bang, and Dibble was also nominated in the same category. The Chicago commercial run is produced by Howard Perloff in association with Larry Wilker and the Chicago Theatre.
"The show tells the story of two creators trying to line up producers for the most expensive Broadway musical ever written—a $83 million spectacle that depicts the entire history of the world — from the formation of the planets to the building of the pyramids, to present day," according to production notes. It all takes place in the elegant Park Avenue apartment of Dr. Sid and Sylvia Lipbalm.
Jim Ryan is music director. Dan Stetzel is associate music director and plays Albert, the on-stage accompanist to the "writers."
The creative team includes Bradley Helm (set designer), Shelly Hicklin (lighting designer), Colleen McMillian (costume designer), John Mock (sound designer), Kristen Gardner (props designer), Marguerite Price (production stage manager).
Composer Jed Feuer had his first Off-Broadway musical, American Princess, produced in 1982. In 1983, he underscored the London production of Prometheus Bound. He wrote music for The York Theatre Company's production of The Miser. He has been writing music for documentaries produced by PBS and The Humane Society of the United States for 20 years. He recently began work on an opera of Slaughterhouse Five. He also wrote the score for Now You See It, a new play in London.
Lyricist-librettist Boyd Graham began his writing career in advertising and worked for several years writing ad campaigns for films with TriStar Pictures. His Off-Broadway credits include Eating Raoul. He wrote the book and lyrics for Life is Not a Doris Day Movie, and also wrote and directed The Last Chance Revue and Hot Damn and has recently completed a new musical, Microphony.
Ben Dibble's Philadelphia credits include Mary's Wedding, the Harry Chapin musical Remember When the Music and the Chapin musical Lies & Legends, in a role that won him a Barrymore nomination. Other credits include La Vie en Bleu at the Walnut Street Theatre, Big Love at the Wilma and the title role in Bat Boy: The Musical with 1812 Productions and as Chris in Miss Saigon at the Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center.
Tony Braithwaite has worked at Act II, the Arden Theatre, Hedgerow Theatre, Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, among other places. He has also been emcee of the Barrymore Awards in Philadelphia.
Richard M. Parison Jr. is associate artistic director of Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia, and staged the Prince hit Dreamgirls in early 2005-06. He directed the Barrymore-nominated Over the River and Through the Woods and is the former casting director and assistant to the producing artistic director at Walnut Street Theatre. A native of Cleveland, OH, he was previously artistic associate to Gerald Freedman at Great Lakes Theatre Festival where he assisted in numerous productions. He served as artistic director of the Lakeland Theatre at Lakeland College from 1992-98. For Walnut Street he has directed many productions, including Pump Boys and Dinettes.
For ticket information call (312) 902-1500 or visit www.bigbangthemuscial.com.