Michael Gracey is directing the latest three-week workshop of the intimate musical, which began Jan. 3 in Los Angeles. Phil Reno, who was the conductor and musical director of the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises, serves as musical director for the Magi workshop.
Sater described his concept for the classic love story as a framework that embeds the experience of a cabaret (with actors at the piano) into a musical theatre context. Magi, which traces the 20-year relationship of one couple, will explore how music can transport people to different times in their lives.
Riabko and Altomare, who starred in the touring cast of Spring Awakening, portray the couple in their early years, while Murney (The Wild Party, Wicked) and Stanek (Lestat, Little Women) are cast as the same couple 20 years later in life.
Sater told Playbill.com that his view of the O. Henry story also looks at "the ways we hurt each other because we know each other, and the ways we forgive each other because we know each other. The musical is rife with that."
Once fully staged, The Gift of the Magi will feature two onstage pianos (in addition to a small band), which will be played by the two male actors. While the workshop cast is not performing those duties, Sater and his collaborators have designed the production with this conceit in mind. The workshop has also resulted in yet another new tune, which Sater and Bacharach are currently penning. Magi began its latest workshop with 18 songs in place. The creators are hoping to hold another workshop in May prior to a regional premiere of The Gift of the Magi in late fall 2011.
The single "Some Lovers," which was penned by Sater and Bacharach for The Gift of the Magi, has also been released by British vocalist Rumer.
Sater earned the 2007 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Spring Awakening, which he co-authored with songwriter Duncan Sheik. The duo also earned the Tony Award for Best Original Score. The groundbreaking musical was awarded the Tony Award for Best Musical and is currently playing across the world. His rock musical Prometheus Bound, with a score by Serj Tankian, will premiere at the American Repertory Theater in February with Tony Award nominee Gavin Creel in the title role.