Broadway darling Kristin Chenoweth and Side Show's Jeff McCarthy will team up as the title characters in Jerry Herman's Mack & Mabel in a May 1 performance at TX's Casa Manana Theatre. Herman himself will host the evening. The musical, presented concert style (sans sets and costumes) will kick off the theatre's new "Tomorrow Project" reading series, aimed to bring lesser-known and new musicals to Texas audiences.
Chenoweth won a 1999 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress as Sally in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Other roles have included Louise in Epic Proportions, Precious in Steel Pier and Lily St. Regis in the ABC "Annie." Now a hot TV commodity, Chenoweth returns to her past at Casa Manana, where she last appeared as Dainty June in 1990's Gypsy.
McCarthy's Broadway stints have included Side Show, Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables, Zorba and City of Angels.
Based on the true story of "Keystone Cops" director and Charlie Chaplin producer Mack Sennett and actress Mabel Normand, Mack & Mabel features the Herman songs "Time Heals Everything," "When Movies Were Movies," "Tap Your Troubles Away" and "I Won't Send Roses." Mack opened Oct. 6, 1974 at Broadway's Majestic Theatre with Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters in the leads, but closed quickly after a mere 66 performances.
Admission to the readings is free. Casa Manana is located at 3101 West Lancaster. Casa Manana is on the web at http://www.casamanana.org. *
Texan Richard Gleaves is the sole force behind the series' second offering, Dorian. Gleaves composed the score and wrote the lyrics and book. Based on the Oscar Wilde story "The Picture of Dorian Gray" about a narcissistic man who remains young and beautiful even as a portrait of himself twists and ages with the evil life he lives, Dorian will be read June 12 with direction by Tennessee Repertory Theatre founder Mac Pirkle.
Sept. 18, the Jeanne Tesori-Brain Crawley musical Violet will bloom at Casa Manana. A critical hit when it premiered in 1997 at Playwrights Horizons in New York City, the musical tells the story of young Violet, a girl with a horrible facial scar, who travels across the south to find a preacher who can heal her affliction. Violet is based on the Doris Bets story, "The Ugliest Pilgrim."
-- By Christine Ehren