Julian Marsh, the brusque musical-comedy director who delivers the "Lullaby of Broadway" plea in the stage musical, 42nd Street, will be played in the upcoming Broadway revival by Michael Cumpsty, lately of Copenhagen.
The casting of both Cumpsty and Christine Ebersole (who will play aging stage star Dorothy Brock) was announced Jan. 18. Mary Testa (The Wax, On the Town) and Jonathan Freeman (A Class Act, On the Town) were previously announced to play "Jones & Barry," the songwriters for the show within-the-show.
Previews for the new Dodger Theatricals revival begin April 4 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Opening is set for May 2. Yet unannounced is the actress who'll play Peggy Sawyer, the Allentown hoofer who makes good when the star of Pretty Lady is injured. "The search is still on," according to the producers.
According to industry folk, David Elder will be the tap-dancing tenor, Billy Lawlor, although there has been no official announcement. Cumpsty is currently starring as Werner Heisenberg in the Tony Award-winning Copenhagen (through Jan. 21). Cumpsty also appeared on Broadway in Electra, La Bete, the Roundabout Theatre's 1776, and is a veteran of many Public Theater stagings (including Kevin Kline's Hamlet). Ebersole's casting in 42nd Street was an open secret in New York. She's the well-liked actress who appeared in The Best Man, Paper Mill Playhouse's Mame and the 1979 revival of Oklahoma!, among other New York and regional works.
During its long Broadway run beginning in 1980, 42nd Street was altered slightly so that Dorothy Brock sang "I Know Now" or "I Only Have Eyes For You," in addition to "Shadow Waltz," "About a Quarter to Nine" and "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me." Co-librettist Mark Bramble directs the revival of the 1981 Best Musical Tony-winner. The musical is drawn from the famous Warner Bros. movie of the same name, and pulls Al Dubin and Harry Warren songs from that and other Depression-era pictures (Dames and the Gold Diggers movies). Michael Stewart and Bramble co-wrote the book. David Merrick produced the splashy original production in 1980, and it ran more than eight years.
Dodger Theatricals is producing, along with partner Joop van den Ende, who recently produced a smash revival of the show in Holland to great success. The New York production is an entirely new staging for Broadway.
Randy Skinner is recreating the late Gower Champion's Tony Award winning choreography, although insiders know that it was Skinner who was largely responsible for the tap dances in the original show (Champion's strength was more athletic work, and larger stage pictures). Bramble and Skinner's Holland production did change the order and context of some of the show's songs; such changes might also happen on Broadway, but the spirit of the largely innocent show is not expected to be changed, according to insiders. It won't be a dark, Cabaret-style reinvention, for example.
The design team includes Doug Schmidt (sets), Roger Kirk (costumes), Paul Gallo (lighting). Todd Ellison is musical director, Donald Johnston is dance arranger and wrote additional orchestrations.
The original film was based on a (racier) novel by Bradford Ropes.
42nd Street tickets ($20-$90) go on sale by phone beginning Feb. 4 (for Visa card holders) and to the general public beginning Feb. 11. Call (212) 307-4100 or, for those outside metro New York, (800) 755-2400.
Songs from the 1980 show include "Young and Healthy," "Go Into Your Dance," "Getting Out of Town," "Dames," "We're in the Money," "Sunny Side to Every Situation," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," the title number, and more. The original company's work is preserved on a cast album.