The Jerry Herman cult fave, Dear World, waltzes in a concert revival by 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco Sept. 6-24, prior to a separate full production by Goodspeed-at Chester/The Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut in November.
The productions are not related, but represent different versions of the same basic material: the 1969 romantic musical based on the Giraudoux play, The Madwoman of Chaillot. Herman and book writers Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee revised their script after its brief Broadway run, and that is the version to be seen in September by 42nd Street Moon, which has earned a solid rep for its concert revivals of such shows as Call Me Madam, Nymph Errant and Girl Crazy.
The Moon revival will restore two songs cut from the Broadway original: "Just a Little Bit More" (a song for the corrupt businessmen who want to drill for oil in Paris) and "Through the Bottom of the Glass" (a song for the romantic heroine of the show).
The revival changes the running order of the songs and reassigns the title song, originally sung by Angela Lansbury as the Countess Aurelia. The young man now sings it. Lansbury won a Tony for her portrayal, which includes such choice songs as "I Don't Want to Know," "And I Was Beautiful," "Each Tomorrow Morning" and "Kiss Her Now."
"These changes are, of course, different from whatever changes may be being made for the new version at Goodspeed," said a 42nd Street Moon spokesperson. San Francisco cabaret star Meg Mackay is the Countess in the concert revival. Greg MacKellan directs, Dave Dobrusky musical directs. Official opening is Sept. 8.
The revised revival at Goodspeed-at-Chester/Norma Terris Theatre -- a full staging -- plays Nov. 16-Dec. 10 and has the active participation of Jerry Herman, who is contributing new material. Richard Sabellico, late of Off-Broadway's A Majority of One and Home of the Brave, will direct, Jennifer Paulson Lee will choreograph. The show plays Goodspeed's developmental Chester, CT, space, which does not invite reviewers in.
Written by Giraudoux during the Nazi occupation of France, "The Madwoman of Chaillot" was not performed until after the fall of Germany and the author's death, according to production notes. Its opening in 1945 was a national event.
In the musical version, as in the play, the forces of poetry, love, and idealism win over those of materialism, cold science, and business. In the show, an eccentric named Countess Aurelia and her misfit friends fight to save Paris from a group of business presidents, financiers, and bankers who plan to drill for oil in the beautiful old neighborhood of Chaillot. Countess Aurelia conspires to dispose of the troublesome capitalists (with a little help from such memorable characters as the King of the Sewers).
The same year Dear World opened, a film version of "The Madwoman of Chaillot" premiered, featuring Katharine Hepburn, Danny Kaye, Richard Chamberlain, Charles Boyer, and Yul Brynner. The musical, staged by Joe Layton, played 132 performances.
TheDear World cast also includes Bettina Devin as Constance, Coralie Persse as Gabrielle, Lianne Marie Dobbs as Nina and Mike Earley as Julian, with Nick Hoffa, Steve Rhyne, John-Elliott Kirk, Anthony Martinez, and Roy Steele, among others.
Tickets range $13-$25. 42nd Street Moon performs at the Eureka Theatre. For tickets, call (415) 788-1125. Visit the 42nd Street Moon web site at www.42ndStMoon.com.
-- By Kenneth Jones