The creative development on Cy Coleman's musical It's Good to Be Alive took another step forward with the announcement that director and choreographer Patricia Birch is scheduled to begin working with Coleman on dance numbers for the Marty Richards production. Alan King has long been linked to star in the show.
Producer Richards has presented such shows as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Crimes of the Heart, The Life, The Will Rogers Follies, La Cage Aux Folles and On the Twentieth Century. Earlier, Coleman confirmed that Gene Saks will direct the musical comedy and that the book will be by Avery Corman, author of the novels "Kramer vs. Kramer," "Oh, God!" "The Old Neighborhood" and "50."
Birch, who has already been linked to the Coleman show, has earned two Emmy Awards, four Tony nominations, Drama Desk, Billboard, Barrymore and MTV awards for her work in a variety of media. Most recently Birch's Broadway projects include Band in Berlin, the story of the Comedian Harmonists and Parade at Lincoln Center with Harold Prince, Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown. In the past, she has worked You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, The Me Nobody Knows, Grease, A Little Night Music, Candide, Over Here, Pacific Overtures, They're Playing, Our Song, Gilda Radner Live from New York, Zont Suit, ROSA, Street Scene, The Mikado, The Cradle Will Rock, and Happy End among other shows. Birch's directorial credits include I Sent a Letter to My Love (Melissa Manchester/Jeffrey Sweet), Really Rosie, (M. Sendak/Carole King) Raggedy Ann, Elvis, American Enterprise, Bernstein's Mass and What About Luv? among others.
She has contributed to such films as "Grease," "Grease II," "The Wild Party," "Roseland," "Big," "Awakenings," "Working Girl" and "Sleeping With the Enemy," and has directed and choreographed for such musical artists as Cyndi Lauper, the Rolling Stones and Carly Simon.
The popular composer of Sweet Charity, City of Angels and The Will Rogers Follies, Coleman describes It's Good to Be Alive as "hysterical." As reported earlier, Alan King will star as the acting managing director of a struggling theatrical troupe in the '20s, during the heyday of Yiddish theatre in New York City.
"Back then," Coleman said, "there were 22 thriving [Yiddish] theatres in New York, which was quite a revelation to me."
Coleman described his play's lead character, saying, "You've got Alan King playing 'Romeo.' This is a guy in his '60s and he's decided nothing has been written that can't be changed. So he rewrites Shakespeare so that all of the endings are happy endings."
Coleman said he wants to take the show out of town for tryouts for a number of reasons. "When you do this kind of comedy," Coleman explained, "it's best to go out of town and be able to play with your audience and see if everything you thought would work actually works."
Coleman said that financing for It's Good to Be Alive is established and that development should "go as fast as we can go." "It's ready, all ready," Coleman said. "The next step is that I'm meeting with Pat Birch to go through all the dancing. Normally that's done in rehearsals, but we're getting a little jump on that."
-- By Murdoch McBride