Composer's Widow Reunites With Daughter in Premiere, December Fools, With Music by Wally Harper

News   Composer's Widow Reunites With Daughter in Premiere, December Fools, With Music by Wally Harper Sherman Yellen's December Fools, about a widow's reunion with her estranged daughter, gets its world premiere by Off-Broadway's Abingdon Theatre Company Jan. 27.

Yellen, a Tony Award nominee for the libretto to The Rothschilds, collaborated with Richard Rodgers, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Wally Harper on past projects. December Fools concerns Gloria Temple, "the beautiful widow of a renowned musical composer" who "has devoted her life to protecting her husband's name as a Broadway legend," according to Abingdon production notes.

"In need of an heir apparent, she swallows her pride and summons her estranged daughter, Marcie, who fled to New Mexico years ago. As the rift between mother and daughter deepens, Marcie stumbles upon a hidden cache of her mother's un-mailed letters. Filled with dark secrets about her parents, her siblings and herself, can Marcie resist payback?"

Donald Brenner directs a cast that includes Eric Michael Gillett, Celia Howard, Mikel Sarah Lambert, Carol Monferdini, Jana Robbins and Elizabeth Shepherd.

The late Wally Harper, the long-time accompanist for singer Barbara Cook, composed the music for the play. Harper had been working on December Fools before his death, and the arrangements were done posthumously by William Cox.

Set design is by James F. Wolk, costume design is by Susan Scherer and lighting design is by Matthew McCarthy. Yellen has written the libretto and lyrics for a new musical about Josephine Baker, Josephine Tonight!, with music by the late Wally Harper, opening in late February at Theatre Building Chicago. Yellen won two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award for the PBS mini-series "The Adams Chronicles" and "An Early Frost."

Opening of December Fools is set for Feb. 1. Performances play Tuesday-Saturday at 7:30 PM with weekend matinees on Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM in the June Havoc Theatre at Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex, 312 West 36th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased through SmartTix: www.smarttix.com, by calling (212) 868-4444, or at the box office prior to the show.

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Abingdon Theatre Company, founded in 1993, is dedicated to developing and producing new plays by American playwrights. Artistic directors for Abingdon Theatre Company are Jan Buttram and Pamela Paul. Samuel J. Bellinger is the managing director.

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