Though Dionne Warwick's recent solo concert in the Berkshires was titled "I Won't Stop Now," the show did stop and take a breather. Originally planned for Broadway in Jan-Feb 1999, the show will instead arrive September 1999, according to spokesperson Angelo Ellerbee, president of Double Xxposure Publicity.
Prior to that, a short tour is planned for March/April, Ellerbee says, with the Washington-Virginia area targeted.
As reported in the NY Post (Jan. 15), director Christopher Renshaw has left the project, and a new director is being sought. Ellerbee told Playbill On-Line George Faison looks like the top contender, though no deal has yet been made. "He's in negotiations with the Nederlanders...Everyone's in conversation." Ellerbee noted that Geoffrey Holder has also been approached.
Why did Renshaw exit? "There were no problems with Chris," said Ellerbee, "but we wanted someone able to bring out the best in Dionne. We wanted her to be as energized as possible for Broadway. Chris was possibly not the candidate to do that..." Recent Renshaw credits have included The King And I and High Society.
By contrast, Ellerbee notes, Faison has worked with Warwick on various "dynamic" concerts and even her performance before the Queen in London. "He was Warwick's first choice, even before Chris signed on. And George is the only African-American director ever to win a Tony," said Ellerbee, referring to The Wiz. (Actually, George C. Wolfe also won for Angels in America). Oct. 22-25, producer James L. Nederlander presented a try-out of Dionne Sings Dionne: "I Won't Stop Now" at the Berkshire Festival in Stockbridge, MA. Reviewers were strong, Ellerbee told Playbill On-Line, but the show still needed "more time for production. It was going too fast."
Back in May, the NY Daily News had reported that Warwick was seeking backers to produce a musical about her life. "I want to tell my story, my heritage, using the music that has been an integral part of my life," she said.
Warwick's concert features such hits as "Walk On By," "That's What Friends Are For," "Say A Little Prayer" and "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?" Warwick told the News in May that songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David would help out on the show.
Pop and gospel singer Warwick reached stardom in the 1970s and is recently best known for hosting television infomercials for The Psychic Friends Network.
Oddly enough, Warwick's show wasn't the first Bacharach/David revue to hit a delay on the way to Broadway. What The World Needs Now stalled at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre last year, rather than making an intended Broadway transfer to the Roundabout. There was also talk of a commercial run for Encores! acclaimed concert staging of Promises Promises (starring Martin Short), but that didn't happen either. (Short is currently in the Roundabout's Little Me).
Bacharach's latest project was a CD cowritten and performed with Elvis Costello.
-- By David Lefkowitz