Fellner, Skybell, Marcus Join Channing, Hoff and Plimpton for Broadway's Pal Joey

News   Fellner, Skybell, Marcus Join Channing, Hoff and Plimpton for Broadway's Pal Joey Complete casting has been announced for the Roundabout Theatre Company's new fall production of Rodgers & Hart's Pal Joey, already set to star Tony Award winners Stockard Channing and Christian Hoff and Tony nominee Martha Plimpton.

Christian Hoff
Christian Hoff

Directed by Tony winner Joe Mantello, with a revised book by Tony winner Richard Greenberg, the musical, produced in association with Marc Platt, will begin performances Nov. 14 at Studio 54 toward a Dec. 11 opening.

Creating a population of Chicagoans in the John O'Hara-inspired tale of a heel who dreams of owning a nightclub will be Robert Clohessy (as Mike), Mamma Mia! veteran Jenny Fellner (as good girl Linda English), Urinetown alumnus Daniel Marcus (as Ludlow), Wicked actor Steven Skybell (as Ernest), Timothy J. Alex, Brian Barry, Bahiyah Sayyed Gaines, Lisa Gajda, Anthony Holds, Nadine Isenegger, Mark Morettini, Kathryn Mowat Murphy, Abbey O'Brien, Hayley Podschun, Matthew Risch, Krista Saab and Eric Sciotto.

The 1940 musical — with a score by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart — is considered one of the landmark "link" musicals between fizzy old-fashioned musicals of the 1920s and '30s and more psychologically charged shows in which darker colors of characters were revealed. Pal Joey is a sort of musical comedy character study about an ambitious performer, Joey Evans, played by Jersey Boys veteran Hoff, who seeks the affection of a married woman in the hope that she'll fund his dream of owning a nightclub (Channing plays older, richer Vera Simpson, who dryly sings "Bewitched" and "What Is a Man?" as well as the duet "Den of Iniquity"). He loses his soul along the way.

The score also includes "A Great Big Town (Chicago)," "You Mustn't Kick It Around," "Take Him," "Zip," "Plant You Now, Dig You Later," "I Could Write a Book," "I'm Talking to My Pal" (a song that had been dropped from the score during its out-of-town tryout, but is now restored), and more.

The musical had a libretto by John O'Hara, based on his New Yorker stories. The show was a success in its original production (starring Gene Kelly and Vivienne Segal) but was a bigger hit when it was revived on Broadway in the 1950s (with Harold Lang and Segal). Tony Award nominee Martha Plimpton (Top Girls) will play a character name Gladys Bumps in the new production. Greenberg has reinvented some characters and tensions, and the song placement is not expected to reflect the original production.

Pal Joey is a limited engagement through Feb. 15, 2009. This is the first Broadway revival of Pal Joey in over 30 years.

According to Roundabout, "Set in Chicago in the late 1930s, Pal Joey is the story of Joey Evans, a brash, scheming song and dance man with dreams of owning his own nightclub. Joey abandons his wholesome girlfriend Linda English, to charm a rich, married older woman, Vera Simpson, in the hope that she'll set him up in business."

The design team includes two-time Tony Award winner Scott Pask (sets), five-time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long (costumes), two-time Tony Award winner Peggy Eisenhauer and eight-time Tony Award winner Jules Fisher (lights), Tony Meola (sound), Don Sebesky (orchestrator) and Eric Stern (dance arranger).

Music direction by is Tony Award winner Paul Gemignani, with choreography by Tony nominee Graciela Daniele (Ragtime).

The 1952 Broadway production of Pal Joey won three Tony Awards including Best Choreography and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Musical. A film of the musical was made in 1957, starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, and Kim Novak. Bob Fosse received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in the 1963 production. The 1976 production at Circle in the Square starred Dixie Carter. Pal Joey was featured in the second season of Encores! at New York City Center in a 1995 concert version starring Patti LuPone and Peter Gallagher.

Channing won a Tony Award for her performance in Roundabout Theatre Company's Joe Egg in 1985, and also received Tony nominations for her acclaimed performances in The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, Four Baboons Adoring the Sun and Roundabout Theatre Company's The Lion in Winter. In 2002 she won two Emmy Awards, one for her role as First Lady Abbey Bartlet in NBC's "The West Wing" and the other for her performance as Judy Shepard in "The Matthew Shepard Story." She was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe when she re-created her role in the film "Six Degrees…" She was Rizzo in the film "Grease."

Christian Hoff won a 2006 Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys. He was also an original cast member of The Who's Tommy.

Plimpton is a two-time Tony Award nominee for her recent performances in Top Girls and The Coast of Utopia.

Tickets will be available in September 2008, by phone at (212) 719-1300, online at www.roundabouttheatre.org or at the Studio 54 Box Office (254 W. 54th Street). Ticket prices range from $36.50 to $121.50.

Pal Joey will play Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM with a Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinee at 2 PM.