Don Mayo and Nora Blackall Reach for the Heavens in NYMF's Last Starfighter

News   Don Mayo and Nora Blackall Reach for the Heavens in NYMF's Last Starfighter Broadway veteran Don Mayo has joined the cast of The Last Starfighter, the romantic sci-fi musical adventure blasting off Sept. 28 in the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

Mayo replaces Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper, who, according to the show's producers, needed to withdraw because of potential future activity of his current show, Being Alive. (The Stephen Sondheim revue that bowed in Connecticut in late August goes live again in October at Philadelphia Theatre Company.)

Also new to the Starfighter cast is Nora Blackall as Maggie, the young love interest of the show's hero, Alex. Blackall appeared in The Sound of Music with Richard Chamberlain, in Goodspeed Musicals' A Little Night Music and is a featured singer on the recording "Simple Gifts: Carols From the Abbey."

Don Mayo will play Otis Wright, the mountain-town resident who narrates the tale. He appeared on Broadway in Man of La Mancha, On the Town, The Scarlet Pimpernel and in Madison Square Garden's A Christmas Carol and The Wizard of Oz.

Rising actor Danny Binstock and veterans Joe Kolinski, Janet Carroll and Adinah Alexander are among the previously announced performers who'll reach for the heavens in the NYMF production of The Last Starfighter, the "romantic musical sci-fi fantasy" based on the screenplay of the same name.

The new staging Sept. 28-Oct. 7 at The Theater at St. Clements in Manhattan will be directed by Elizabeth Lucas and choreographed by David Eggers (dance captain of Broadway's Curtains). The musical has music and lyrics by Skip Kennon (Herringbone, Time and Again) and book by Fred Landau, drawing on the screenplay by Jonathan Betuel.

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The NYMF run will feature young actor Binstock (seen in North Shore's High School Musical, Shakespeare Theatre's Titus Andronicus in DC) as the teen-age California video game wizard, Alex Rogan, who is enlisted by Kolinski (Titanic, Les Miz, A Christmas Carol), as alien Centauri, the role played by Robert Preston in the 1984 film. Alex is such a high scorer on the video game in the trailer park he helps manage that he's recruited by Centauri for space duty.

Janet Carroll (Aunt March in Braodway's recent Little Women) as Granny; Adinah Alexander (Wicked, The Wedding Singer) as Mrs. Rogan; Tom Treadwell (the 20th anniversary Annie revival) as Rylan leader Enduran; Mary Ellen Ashley (whose many credits start with the original Annie Get Your Gun) as Elaine; Michael Cone (Broadway's La Boheme, Rags, A Christmas Carol) as Hugh; Jesse J.P. Johnson (Altar Boyz tour) as Marty; Jonathan Richard Sandler (Dr. Dolittle tour) as Jerry; Ryan Jesse as Blake; Natalie Hall as Jenny; Sean Montgomery and Jessica Blair.

Kennon told Playbill.com two new songs have been added to the show since its Off-Broadway run in fall 2004 (and a third is being considered).

The romance between Alex and Maggie has been deepened by librettist Landau, who has tweaked and refined the book since its last outing.

Andrea Jess Berkey is production stage manager. The creative team also includes Herrick Goldman (lighting design), Keith Truax (tech director), Mark Richard Caswell (costume design) and Michael Cassara Casting (casting). Karen Marshall is production assistant.

Performances will play Sept. 28 at 8 PM, Sept. 29 at 1 PM, Oct. 3 at 9 PM, Oct. 5 at 1 PM, Oct. 6 at 9 PM and Oct. 7 at 4 PM.

The Last Starfighter played an Off-Broadway showcase production in 2004, produced by The Storm Theatre. The show broke the troupe's weekly attendance and weekly box-office records. An original cast recording is on the Kritzerland label.

Kennon's solo-actor musical, Herringbone, enjoyed a well-regarded revival starring B.D. Wong at Williamstown Theatre Festival earlier this year.

According to NYMF notes, "It's Spring 1983 in a Sierra Nevada trailer park. High school senior Alex Rogan's hardworking, unrewarded life takes an unexpected turn when he breaks a video game record and is spirited away by the game's inventor, the alien huckster Centauri, to fight for the Star League in a faraway galaxy. Centauri leaves behind Beta, a body double droid of Alex, to cover Alex's absence with his mother, brother and beloved girlfriend Maggie while Alex is off fighting the evil Zur and the Ko-dan Armada. Beta's comic mishaps on Earth with Maggie and the neighbors in the trailer park, and shape-shifting alien assassins in pursuit of Alex on his home turf, alternate with Alex's heroic starfighter achievements. Alex must reach inside himself to discover his true potential — the universe and his life depend on it!"

The CD song list includes "Starlite Starbrite," "Somebody, Somewhere, Something," "A Place Like This," "Little Did We Know (The Game)," "Things Change," "Out of This World," "Star League Anthem," "Father to Son," "Love Is Like Water," "To Make a Hero," "Zandozan!," "To Make a Hero" (reprise), "Spring Break," "Reach Out," "Caves of the Heart (The Battle)," "Finale."

Tickets are $20 and may be purchased online at www.nymf.org or at (212) 352-3101. Single tickets are now on sale.

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The Last Starfighter is produced by NYMF, The Last Starfighter LLC and Julie Miller.

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