Norbert Leo Butz, previously mentioned for the role in the workshop situation, was unable to do it due to a neck injury that has also kept him out of Broadway's Wicked.
"I really believe you need a calm, sheltered environment, or laboratory, in which you encourage your creatives to try everything and see what works," Bell told Playbill On-Line by e-mail Dec. 3. "And that is what we are in the middle of right now. The actors are not here to perform — they are here to help us discover. And they are all wonderful about this. And we are discovering wonderful things. We may not even do any kind of public presentation. We are focusing on sections of the script and problem areas — places that need some examining. Jack is a dream and [is] as into this process as I am. We are both trying to find out what it is about this material that makes it unique and different from any other musical. We both believe it is our job to take the musical places it has never been."
Bell added, "The privacy of process is the hardest thing to find these days. If we have that, I think you'll get something to be excited about. We need to get things wrong in our private chamber in order to eventually get things right in a public theatre." *
Mitchell (Kiss Me, Kate, Man of La Mancha) will explore the Michael Caine role and Brian D'Arcy James (Sweet Smell of Success) the Steve Martin role in the show based on the Frank Oz-directed film of the same name. Christine Ebersole and Sheri Rene Scott will play their prey. Denis O'Hare, the Tony Award winner for Take Me Out, plays Mitchell's sidekick, a local police chief.
The December reading is a private first-look for the producers and creative team. Playbill On-Line previously reported the designers for the eventual production will be David Rockwell (set), Kenneth Posner (lighting) and Gregg Barnes (costumes).
Pop-rock writer and performer David Yazbek was Tony Award nominated for his first Broadway score, The Full Monty.
The Dirty Rotten Scoundrels librettist is Jeffrey Lane, whose TV writing credits include "Mad About You," "Bette" and "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd."
The show is expected to take the same path The Full Monty did: start at San Diego's Old Globe and move to Broadway, though that has not been officially announced.
Although work is in the early stages, it's expected to emerge at the Old Globe in September-October 2004 leading to a Broadway bow in 2004-05.
The show is said to be a pure book musical comedy, tapping into Yazbek's knack for comedy songs (memorable in Full Monty was a song about suicide called "Big Ass Rock"). Yazbek's score for Monty won a Drama Desk Award and ran a gamut of styles, including yearning ballads, up-tempo Latin dance and burlesque strip. The composer-lyricist was a Broadway virgin before Monty. As a recording artist, he is heard on several albums (visit www.davidyazbek.com). He has also composed incidental music for plays, films and TV.
Producers David Brown and Marty Bell are partnering to bring the 1988 film comedy to the musical stage.
The film, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," concerned two con men (Martin and Caine) in the French Riviera who try to swindle a woman (played by Glenne Headly). Stage star Dana Ivey also appeared in the film, which was based on the 1964 David Niven-Marlon Brando pic, "Bedtime Story."