Giving Regards to Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy!, the Musical, Gets World Premiere at Seattle's 5th Avenue

News   Giving Regards to Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy!, the Musical, Gets World Premiere at Seattle's 5th Avenue
 
George M. Cohan, the American showman and songwriter already celebrated in the musical, George M!, is the subject of a new musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy!, premiering at 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle this spring.

The new show — not based on the film of the same name — is written and co-directed by 5th Avenue Theatre's producing artistic director, David Armstrong, and uses as its score some of the best-known and beloved American songs of the past 100 years: "Give My Regards to Broadway," "Over There," "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Additional new music and lyrics are by Albert Evans. Jamie Rocco is co-director and co-choreographer (with Armstrong).

Australian-born Seán Martin Hingston (Broadway's Contact) plays the young Cohan and Richard Sanders (famous as Les Nessman on the hit TV show "WKRP in Cincinnati") plays the elder Cohan.

Previews play April 24-28, with an opening April 29 in Seattle. The run continues to May 16, followed by engagements in Atlanta and Dallas. The show is a co-production with Dallas Summer Musicals.

According to the announcement, "David Armstrong's new musical, Yankee Doodle Dandy!, tells the story of Cohan in a new way, substantially different from the 1942 film. Both are inspired by Cohan's life and songs, and both include production numbers based on Cohan's actual stagings. Yankee Doodle Dandy!, however, is set against the colorful backdrop of 'Old Broadway,' and highlights the brash, colorful, cocky, charismatic and uncompromising character who almost single-handedly invented the Broadway musical. From the hard-knock days of his family's adventures on the vaudeville circuit to his reign as the star-spangled 'King of Broadway,' Cohan's life was a roller coaster ride of professional highs and lows and personal triumphs and heartbreak. His work touched the lives of generations and inspired a new and thoroughly American art form."

Also in the cast are Judy Blazer in dual roles: Ethel, Cohan's first wife, and Georgette, Cohan's daughter; Seán Griffin as Old Lou the Doorman; Jason Schuchman as George's best friend and business partner, Sam Harris; Dirk Lumbard and Cynthia Ferrer as Cohan's parents Jerry and Nellie; and Danette Holden as Cohan's sister, Josie. Rounding out the ensemble are Greg Michael Allen, Kathryn Arnett, Alan Boswell, Adam Brozowski, Kari Lee Cartwright, Tony Curry, Taryn Darr, Marc dela Cruz, David Drummond, Brigitte Graf, Brittany Jamieson, Joey Matta, Jayme McDaniel, Amanda Paulson, John Scott, Jesse Stoddard, Pamela Turpen and Kathryn Van Meter. Blazer was last seen as Eliza Doolittle in The 5th Avenue's recent production of My Fair Lady. Griffin was Col. Pickering in My Fair Lady. Lumbard and Ferrer last played 5th Avenue as Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden in the 1996 production of Singin' in the Rain.

Richard Gray is the musical director. Ian Eisendrath is the associate musical director and Bruce Monroe is the conductor.

Tom Sturge is the lighting designer, Kurt Fischer is the sound designer, James Wolk is the set designer, Greg Poplyk is the costume designer, and Mary Pyanowski is the hair/make-up designer.

Tickets range $18-$64. Tickets are available over the phone through Ticketmaster at (206) 292-ARTS, online at ticketmaster.com or The 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle.

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George M. Cohan was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on July 3, 1878. His parents, Jeremiah and Helen (Nellie), were vaudeville actors. Cohan and his sister, Josephine eventually became full partners in the family vaudeville act known as "The Four Cohans." As a teenager, he began writing songs and vaudeville skits, by age 20 he was performing, writing, and managing the family's business. Throughout his life Cohan wrote more than 40 Broadway plays and musicals, collaborated with other authors on 14 plays to which his name was never attached, wrote and composed over 500 songs and musical numbers, produced 128 theatrical attractions and personally appeared in five films and over 3400 live performances. In 1941, Cohan won a Congressional Medal of Honor for the song, "Over There." Cohan died of cancer Nov. 5, 1942.

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