The Broadway-bound "new" musical, The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm -- which begins previews April 2 for an April 25 opening at the Longacre Theatre -- has announced its cast, largely made up of relatively unknown performers.
Featured are Michael Berresse (Chicago), Darius de Haas, Adriane Lenox, Sara Ramirez, Patrick Wilson (Bright Lights, Big City), Orfeh, Chris Ghelfi, Tim Hunter, Karen Lifshey, Jill Nicklaus, Brian J. Marcus and Kenya U. Massey.
The treasure chest of hits in the revue's previous staging, a collaboration between Arizona Theatre Company and commercial producers Manny Kladitis, Columbia Artists Management, Inc., Magicworks and Jerry Frankel, included "Lady Be Good," "The Man I Love," "I Got Rhythm," "Our Love is Here to Stay," "Embraceable You," "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and "Someone to Watch Over Me," among others. Lesser known are "I Love to Rhyme," "Home Blues," "Hang On to Me" and "Just Another Rumba."
Songs in the Broadway production have not been announced, and may not include every tune from the ATC staging. The show has been in development for years, helmed by co-conceivers Mark Lamos (director) and Mel Marvin (music and vocal arranger).
The producers will likely lobby for this repackaging of hit songs to be considered for a Best Musical Tony nomination. The nom deadline is late April. (Similarly, the Bob Fosse revue, Fosse, repackages material previously seen, as did the Tony-winner, Jerome Robbins' Broadway a decade ago. Fosse opened in January at the Broadhurst Theatre, one of a handful of musicals in the 1998-99 season. Among other non-revival contenders this season are Parade, Footloose, Band in Berlin and Civil War).
Previously produced in a different version in 1997 at Hartford Stage and then reconceived for a near-sell-out run Dec. 5, 1998-Jan. 24,1999 by the Arizona Theatre Company, Fascinating Rhythm is not your grandfather's Gershwin: Lamos' 90-minute, intermissionless, starless production in Arizona was called slinky and sexy and contemporary. It included a lesbian couple singing, "Isn't It a Pity?"
As in Arizona, the Broadway creative team includes David Marques (choreography), Larry Hochman (orchestrations), Michael Yeargan (scenic design), Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting design) and Paul Tazewell (costume design).
By the time it closed Jan. 24, 1999, at the Herberger Theatre in Phoenix, the ATC Fascinating Rhythm was the top box office earner in the 32-year history of the nonprofit company. More than 37,000 theatregoers attended what ATC publicist Michael Rennie has called "a hip, sexy, modern take on the classic Gershwin (material)."
The 27 numbers in the ATC production represent a pared-down score compared to the 1997 Hartford staging, which reportedly had more tunes.
The Arizona cast featured Kena Dorsey (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum ), David Elder (Titanic ), Romain Fruge (Tommy ), Chris Ghelfi (The Life ), Jillian [sic], Karen Lifshey (Show Boat ), Brian J. Marcum (Paper Mill Playhouse's Gypsy ), Jill Nicklaus (Cats ), Sara Ramirez (The Capeman ) and Scott Spahr (On the Town ). Jody Ripplinger was the swing.