A revised version of Jerry Herman's 1969 cult musical, Dear World, will appear at Goodspeed-at-Chester/The Norma Terris Theatre Nov. 16-Dec. 10, bringing back some of the songwriter's most intricate lyrics and lush harmonies.
At least three new songs have been added to the score of the musical, based on Jean Giraudoux's The Madwoman of Chaillot, about a Parisian eccentric who fights the excesses of capitalism in the name of romance and humanity.
The role of the "madwoman" won Angela Lansbury a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Herman and the Goodspeed staff have been "re-adapting" the piece to make it more in the spirit of the original play. The 1969 libretto is by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.
New songs for the piece include "Just a Little Bit More," "Through the Bottom of the Glass" and "It's Really Rather Rugged to Be Rich." *
As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, Goodspeed Opera House was awarded a $75,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to further develop a revised version of Dear World. The dates of the show are just now coming to light. The Chester, CT, Goodspeed venue nurtures new works in a critic-free environment.
Chita Rivera read a revised version of Dear World in New York City in April 1998, directed by Scott Ellis. For the star-studded reading, at the Roundabout Theatre, David Thomson (Steel Pier, The World Goes 'Round) penned a revised book, drawing from the existing libretto by Lawrence and Lee. It was not immediately clear who would be credited for the new libretto at Goodspeed.
The Goodspeed-at-Chester/Norma Terris 2000 season also includes, as previously reported, world premieres of Dorian (based on "The Picture of Dorian Gray") May 11-June 4 and Summer of '42 (based on the coming of-age film) Aug. 10-Sept. 3.
The original Broadway production of Dear World, directed and choreographed by Joe Layton and produced by Alexander H. Cohen, opened Feb. 6, 1969, at the Mark Hellinger Theatre and ran only 132 performances, but Angela Lansbury won a Tony Award for playing Countess Aurelia, a Parisian eccentric who embraces love and shuns the modern world.
The show reunited Lansbury with her Mame authors. Herman's score is filled with love songs and marches, and many consider the work his most sophisticated. Songs include "And I Was Beautiful," "I Don't Want To Know," "I've Never Said I Love You," "Kiss Her Now," "One Person," the title tune, and more.
The 1998 Roundabout reading included Rivera as Countess Aurelia, Debra (The Time of the Cuckoo) Monk and Madeline (The Sisters Rosensweig) Kahn as Gabrielle and Constance, the other two madwomen originated by Jane Connell and Carmen Matthews, and Audra (Marie Christine) MacDonald in the Pamela Hall part of Nina. In Milo O'Shea's role of Sewerman was Alfred Molina (Art).
-- By Kenneth Jones
and Harry Haun