Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, who has been attached to the developing show (based on the play of the same), is unavailable for the latest reading, to be held in New York City the week of April 6. Playbill.com learned that reasons to be pretty and "Rescue Me" star Steven Pasquale will, for the reading, play the role of Prince Sirki/Death.
In the show, the Grim Reaper is a charming character who wonders what human life — and love — is all about.
Drawing on the 1928 Alberto Cassella play, which appeared on Broadway in 1929, the musical has a libretto by the late Tony Award winner Peter Stone (1776) and Tony Award-winner Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray). Tony-winning composer-lyricist Yeston (Nine, Titanic) wrote the songs.
Yeston previously said the piece is "an intensely romantic love story — deeply moving and life affirming." He called the show a "chamber musical."
The darkly romantic, European-set musical was initiated by Stone and Yeston. A draft was completed before Stone's death in 2003, and then Meehan was asked to work on the property. This latest reading will have music direction by Kevin Stites and a cast that includes Kelly Barrett, John Bolton, Sara Chase, Joy Hermalyn, Simon Jones, Aaron Lazar, Jessica Molaskey, Brynn O'Malley, Jill Paice, Michael Siberry and Tony Yazbeck.
Playbill.com had previously reported Roundabout's interest in the musical. Roundabout has not officially announced any plans for this workshop or any future production of the musical. The not-for-profit company explores many projects (revivals and new works alike) in reading situations.
Death tells of the Grim Reaper visiting earth to discover why people are so fearful of him. Or, as Stone once said in a Playbill.com interview, "What can life be that they cling to it so?"
Death becomes a houseguest at a swanky nobleman's home where an engagement is being celebrated. And that's where he falls in love.
"It's very lush and romantic and amusing in many aspects, even though it deals with a somewhat serious subject," Stone previously told Playbill.com.
There have been movie versions of the property, including a 1934 picture starring Fredric March and "Meet Joe Black" (1998), starring Brad Pitt.
"Each time they remake it," Stone said of the film versions, "it's farther from the original. We're keeping the locale: Italy, just after the first World War. It's a small musical: 10 principals, all of them important, no chorus." There are four servants in the mix as well, Playbill.com previously reported, bumping the cast size to a relatively intimate 14.
Hughes directed Broadway's Doubt, Mauritius, Inherit the Wind and Roundabout's A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, among other works.
Yeston penned the score to Titanic, Nine and the internationally popular Phantom, his version of "The Phantom of the Opera," which has a book by Arthur Kopit. He also contributed to the score of Grand Hotel, the Musical.
Playbill.com first reported about the Death project in 2001. Stone died April 26, 2003, at the age of 73. He won Tony Awards for his books for Titanic, Woman of the Year and 1776, and wrote the book for the Tony Award-winning The Will Rogers Follies.
The Roundabout Theatre Company is the Manhattan not-for-profit with a presence both on Broadway (at Studio 54 and The American Airlines Theatre) and Off-Broadway. Visit www.roundabouttheatrecompany.org.