The New York Times now reports that Hyde star Linda Eder has officially signed to appear in the Latin-rhythmed revue.
Said Wildhorn of the project (Nov. 1997), "It'll start as an Atlantic Records concept recording, but I'm hoping it'll be a real vehicle for my fiance [Eder]... The record will feature many of the world's best Latin and Cuban artists." Wildhorn expects the album to be released in spring 1999 - coinciding with a Broadway opening "If I had my way." The Times now reports that the show will likely have its first production in spring 1999 with a fall Broadway opening eyed.
Calling it "a film noir musical," Wildhorn said Havana is set in pre- Castro Cuba, with "romance and intrigue and high stakes." The show is being co-created by Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy -- the same team as on Wildhorn's oratorio, The Civil War.
In Havana, Eder will play the wife of a high-level Mafioso. Eder and Wildhorn, by the way, are a real-life couple who will marry May 3. Asked about his propensity to start the theatre process with a cast recording first -- often way before any public performance, Wildhorn told Playbill On-Line, "I would never begin to do a theatre piece without a record company's support for the recording. You pour your heart and soul into these things, they take forever to do, and the deck is always stacked against you. Why not have the machinery of a music business behind you from the beginning? It's a calling card for the show and a barometer of the audience's temperature. And they become workshops for the shows themselves. With Pimpernel, we've already had a top-40 hit with Linda and Peabo Bryson ["You Are My Home."]"
Some people can concentrate on only one thing at a time. Composer Frank Wildhorn seems to concentrate on four dozen things at once -- and seemed unhappy unless he has four dozen more in reserve.
"I like to switch around a lot," he told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 1997). "It keeps me from getting bored. You keep a lot of projects in the works, and when one is ready to be born, you feel the momentum around it."
Feb. 1999 will see the Jekyll & Hyde national tour take wing, while an international tour will start in Belgium. Wildhorn had hoped to release the concept album of The Civil War in May or June, but the album has been postponed until at least September 1998, according to Martha Ashton of Wildhorn Productions.
The show is still in negotiations to debut in fall 1998 at the Alley Theatre in Houston, with a Broadway opening tentatively targeted for the 1999 2000 season.
Ashton gave no reason for the CD delay, other than to say that recording the concept album is an "ongoing project." But she said many of the cuts have already been recorded, including those by Broadway stars Betty Buckley, Michel Bell and Linda Eder, plus Dr. John and a host of major country/western stars including Travis Tritt, Tricia Yearwood, Carl Anderson, Blues Trader, Kevin Sharp, Deanna Carter, Trace Adkins, Michael English, Tracy Lawrence and John Berry. The CD is scheduled for release on Atlantic Records.
Titled The Civil War: An American Musical, the piece has lyrics by Jack Murphy and will draw its material from original civil war documents, Walt Whitman poetry and other correspondence of the time.
Gary Gunas (of PACE Theatricals) told Playbill On-Line in late 1997 that the "star-studded" concept CD of The Civil War is expected to be followed by a televised concert special. No date for the special has been announced.
Ashton said there will be two CDs of Civil War. One will be a full score double disk; the other will concentrate on "radio friendly mixes." Other stars announced previously for the CD (but unconfirmed by Garza) include Hootie & The Blowfish, Kenny Rogers, Patti LaBelle, Bebe Winans, The Sounds Of Blackness, LeAnne Rimes and Bryan White.
Wildhorn told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 1997) that the Civil War CD is turning into a major drawing card for pop singers. Wildhorn calls it, "the largest American theatre album ever made: 28-30 major acts. Such a sweep of wonderful artists, I'm in heaven!" said Wildhorn. "[Civil War] combines what I love the most: theatre and the best pop singers in the world today making a record. It brings the record-making and theatre worlds together. This is an enormous commitment from Atlantic Records to a theatre piece. Not just RCA Victor or Sony Classics -- this is Atlantic Records, home of Led Zep and Jewel."
Wildhorn said he expects bring The Civil War to New York, "either to a Broadway house or the Paramount" in fall 1999. "And we'll go from there. This thing will have a very different kind of life from a Broadway show. It's not an oratorio, nor a play with music, nor a concert -- but it has elements of all those things. It's a huge emotional tapestry, the people of the times and the loss that defined those times. It consists of letters and diary entries and speeches -- that's the thread of the piece. Even Jack Murphy's song lyrics are based on poetry and speeches. The piece goes from Secession to the dawn of Gettysburg. (There was too much stuff to go to the entire inaugural.) And if it all works, maybe a year from now, we'll do the next part."
And what's on the Wildhorn back-burner? Svengali, which won the 1991 Alton Jones Foundation Award. "We did it in Houston and Florida," said Wildhorn, "but Jekyll & Hyde reared its head and took over our lives. Svengali was written for Linda, and we'll be doing it -- and, of course, a recording of it."
A version of Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass is also in the offing -- another collaboration between Wildhorn, Boyd and Murphy. "I see it as `Magical Mystery Tour/Sergeant Pepper meets Danny Elfman," said Wildhorn. "We're talking to a major, major female artist for the concept recording."
And last but not least, Carnivale. "We're in the beginning stages," said Wildhorn. "Me and Sergio Mendes are creating a Brazilian Riverdance -- and not, it's not like Oba Oba. We figure it'll open in Spain or South America before it even gets here."
But for tonight, all that takes a back seat to Pimpernel.