Costume designer Catherine Zuber and scenic designer Eugene Lee are the latest artists attached to Time and Again, the long-in-development musical version of the popular time-travel novel of the same name. Producers confirmed spring 2000 as the Broadway target date.
The musical, which had a 1996 presentation at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego and resurfaces in four New York City workshop readings May 18 22, is expected to come to Broadway in spring 2000, producer Steven Baruch told the audience at the May 18 reading.
For the reading, Susan H. Schulman (Violet, The Sound of Music, The Secret Garden) directed a cast led by Brian d'Arcy James (Titanic) as illustrator Si Morley, the government's choice for a time travel experiment that leads him to unexpected mystery and love. Schulman will also direct the Broadway staging.
Schulman told the May 18 crowd that what they were about to see was akin to "a final run-through in a rehearsal room" -- without sets, without full costumes, without lighting design.
Zuber (The Sound of Music, Twelfth Night, Triumph of Love) was the costume consultant for the workshop. Lee is known for his designs for Sweeney Todd, Ragtime and Show Boat. He is also the production designer for TV's "Saturday Night Live." The five-week workshop, which began April 19, is expected to be a final step toward a Broadway production for the musical by composer-lyricist Walter Edgar (Skip) Kennon and librettist Jack Viertel. A 1996 regional staging at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, directed by Jack O'Brien, got mixed reviews and sent the collaborators and producers into a rewrite period and further development, which included the enlistment of Schulman.
The workshop was "presented" by Baruch, Thomas Viertel, Richard Frankel, Marc Routh, Dede Harris/Jeslo Productions, Metropolitan Entertainment Group, Nederlander Organization, Liz Oliver and Anne Strickland Squadron.
Charismatic tenor Brian d'Arcy James played Frederick Barrett in Titanic, has performed in Carousel and Les Miserables and is often seen in readings, concerts and cabarets (sometimes singing his own songs), including York Theatre's scaled-back 1998 revival of the flop musical, Kelly. He now plays artist Morley, who travels back to 1882 as part of a government project.
Character actor Dakin Matthews (Playwrights Horizons' Freedomland) has the choice role of Dr. Danziger, director of the time-travel project. He also plays Cyrus the "past" sequences.
Among James' co-stars in the Time and Again workshop are Laura Benanti as Julia, William Parry as Pickering, Don Stephenson as Felix, Julia Murney as Kate, Kay Walbye as Aunt Evie, Lauren Ward as Emily and Joseph Kolinski as the Trolley Man. Benanti, who is not yet 21, is the current Maria in The Sound of Music, and is the daughter of actor Martin Vidnovic, seen in Baby, 1979's Oklahoma! and A Grand Night for Singing..
The company also includes Melissa Rain Anderson, Ann Arvia, John Bolton, Mindy Cooper, Ronn Ealy, Dottie Earle, Robert H. Fowler, Jenny Hill, David Masenheimer, Linda Mugleston, Pedro Porro, Scott Robertson and Karin Wolfe.
Kathleen Marshall is choreographer and Kevin Stites (On the Town, Titanic, Sunset Boulevard) is musical director.
The industry readings May 18, 20, 21 and 22 are private and by invitation only.
It was producers Thomas Viertel, Steven Baruch and Richard Frankel who initiated the project, about escaping into the romance and intrigue of a seemingly simpler, better New York City.
Kennon, who wrote Herringbone with lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh, is artistic coordinator of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. He was recently attached to the in-development musical, Don Juan DeMarco.
The late Jack Finney's 1970 novel -- a genuine cult classic, still in print - includes prosaic, detailed descriptions of New York City life at the end of the 19th and 20th centuries. "From Time to Time" was a sequel that used the same characters. His best-known work might be "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
-- By Kenneth Jones