Everyman Sings About Reaching Sky in Goodspeed's Flight of the Lawnchair Man May 19

News   Everyman Sings About Reaching Sky in Goodspeed's Flight of the Lawnchair Man May 19 Flight of the Lawnchair Man, the musical about a New Jersey Everyman who dreamed all his life of flying — and ended up doing so by strapping 400 helium balloons to patio furniture — gets a new production May 19-June 12 at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut.
Christopher Sutton and Donna Lynne Champlin in Flight of the Lawnchair Man
Christopher Sutton and Donna Lynne Champlin in Flight of the Lawnchair Man Photo by Diane Sobolewski

Christopher Sutton plays Jerry Gorman, the real-life average Joe who acted on a universal human impulse to rise above it all.

Billed here as "funny and inspiring," the musical first dawned as one-act in a trio of musicals called 3hree.

"There's the mall and Meadowlands/And there's I-95/And everything looks happy and alive," the floating Jerry sings, breathlessly, on the cast album of the earlier incarnation.

Flight of the Lawnchair Man has now been expanded and revised by its collaborators, composer-lyricist Robert Lindsey Nassif and book writer Peter Ullian.

Lynne Taylor-Corbett directs and choreographs a company that includes Donna Lynne Champlin (Hollywood Arms) as Jerry's girlfriend, Gracie; Patrick Boll as Big Jack; Jonathan Brody as Leonardo Da Vinci; John Michael Coppola as portray Reporter and Neighbor; William Gilinsky as Mr. Frankel; Danette Holden as Blaire; Susan Jacks as Mother Gorman; Erin Maguire as Amelia Earhart; Kristie Dale Sanders as The FAA Agent; Christopher Vettel as Charles Lindbergh. Here's how Goodspeed introduces the show: "Meet Jerry Gorman. A regular guy from New Jersey who just wants to fly. The neighbors think he's nuts. His mother disapproves. But Gracie believes in him. Laugh and cheer when Jerry soars to 16,000 feet with nothing but a lawnchair and helium balloons. A new musical to remind the world that the air is free and dreams can come true if only you believe in yourself."

Along a surreal path in the sky, Jerry finds inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci, Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.

Sutton is a Barrymore Award winner for Walnut Street Theatre's Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story and has appeared in productions of Golf the Musical and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.

Ullian is a 2001 recipient of the Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theater Foundation Commendation Award for his work in the American Musical Theatre, the first librettist to receive this award. He also received a Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center/Fund for New American Plays for his drama In the Shadow of the Terminal Tower.

Music, lyrics and conception are by Robert Lindsey Nassif. His credits include Broadway's Hollywood Arms and Off-Broadway's Opal, which won the Richard Rodgers Award and Honky-Tonk Highway, which was seen at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre in 1995.

Lynne Taylor-Corbett directed and choreographed Broadway's Swing! and choreographed Titanic and Chess, as well as the films "Footloose" and "My Blue Heaven."

3hree premiered at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia, with the Lawnchair Man one-act directed by Harold Prince. That production of 3hree received a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical in the 2000-2001 Philadelphia theatre season. Flight of the Lawnchair Man was nominated for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play.

3hree was subsequently produced at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, also with Harold Prince as the director of Lawnchair Man.

Recently, Flight of the Lawnchair Man was produced at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's 16th Annual Festival of New Musicals in October 2004.

The musical director for Goodspeed's Flight of the Lawnchair Man is Doug Oberhamer, assistant conductor for Broadway's Swing!, with Andy Einhorn as assistant music director. Sets and costumes are designed by Walt Spangler (Broadway's Hollywood Arms), with lighting designed by Charlie Morrison.

Flight of the Lawnchair Man is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.

The Norma Terris Theatre, Goodspeed's developmental space not open to critics, is located in Chester, CT. For more information, visit www.goodspeed.org.

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