The Drama Dept. is preparing to enter the world of original musicals.
The high-profile, talent-filled troupe has, until now, concentrated on new works (The Country Club) and revivals of old chestnuts (June Moon), its sole venture into musical theatre being a new staging of the Irving Berlin-Moss Hart revue, As Thousands Cheer.
But this February, the company plans to hold a reading of Big Time, a new musical by composer Doug Cohen and playwright (and Drama Dept. artistic director) Douglas Carter Beane. Mark Brokaw (This Is Our Youth, As Bees in Honey Drown) will direct. No cast has been set.
The very Beane-like plot has terrorists take over a U.N. cruise ship which has sailed into international waters to try and hash out the world's problems. By some mistake, a cheesy husband-and-wife singing group from Philadelphia has been booked as the ship's entertainment. In a bizarre, Andy Hardy-like twist, the couple end up saving the day by convincing the terrorists and heads of state that the best way by far to rescue the world is through singing and dancing.
Drama Dept. producing director Mike Rosenberg told Playbill On-Line that the story, interestingly enough, was born when filmmaker Oliver Stone asked Beane to pen a spoof on 70s disaster films. Not surprisingly, Stone passed on the result. The reading will be private and is not open to the public. A Drama Dept. revival of George Kelly's The Torchbearers is due Off-Broadway this coming spring.
-- By Robert Simonson