British director Timothy Sheader, who recently helmed the workshop of Sweet Charity, will direct the musical, which world premieres at Chicago's Ford Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19. David Parsons, who founded the Parsons Dance Company, will choreograph. The remainder of the creative team comprises David Mitchell (scenic design), Ann Hould-Ward (costume design), Ken Billington (lighting design), Peter Fitzgerald (sound design) and Edward G. Robinson (musical supervision).
Masada features a score by Shuki Levy (music) and David Goldsmith (lyrics) and a book by Glenn Berenbeim. According to production notes, the musical is "set in World War II Warsaw [and] tells the story of a courageous group of actors, who, in defiance of their oppressors, perform a musical re telling of the legend of Masada."
Masada was the site of one of the most symbolic acts in Jewish history, where rebels committed suicide rather than subjecting themselves to capture by the Romans. About the musical, composer Levy told Variety, "It is Aida crossed with Norma crossed with West Side Story . . . .Some have thought it doesn't make any sense, this story about 900 Jews who killed themselves on a mountain 2,000 years ago, but once they heard the music, they felt it."
Neither a Broadway theatre nor an opening date has yet to be announced.
* Masada will be produced by Shuki Levy, Anita Mann of LevyMann Entertainment and veteran Broadway producer Barry Brown. Alan Wasser Associates will be the general managers.
Masada debuted in Los Angeles at a charity benefit concert in 1998. That concert, which raised over $1 million for D.A.R.E., featured the talents of Jon Voight, Rita Moreno and Davis Gaines. No casting has been announced for the Chicago or Broadway productions.
Book writer Berenbeim was co-executive producer of CBS-TV's "Touched By An Angel." He has also written for "A Different World" and the PBS series "Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn." Lyricist David Goldsmith wrote the lyrics for the touring musical Hot Shoe Shuffle as well as songs for such films as "Pepita," "Set It Off," "Thief of Always" and "A Christmas Carol." His play, Hotel Buzz, has been optioned by Rent producer Kevin McCollum.