Goodspeed Musicals will offer the highest-profile staging yet of songwriter Craig Carnelia and librettist David H. Bell's affectionate, nostalgia tinged musical, Actor, Lawyer, Indian Chief, May 9-June 2, 2002, at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT.
The rueful musical comedy about a lawyer in mid-life crisis who gets tangled in a movie studio's dispute with a former TV cowboy has been seen in a New York City staged reading and a workshop production at The Landers Theatre in Springfield, MO. Producer Sandy Faison/Apt. 4A Productions is attached to the project.
The Goodspeed booking was announced the weekend of Sept. 21 at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival of Musicals, which hosted two presentations of a 45-minute excerpt of the work Sept. 23-24. Composer-lyricist Carnelia has his hands full in 2002: He also penned lyrics to Marvin Hamlisch's music to create the score for the musical, Sweet Smell of Success, which opens at Broadway's Martin Beck Theatre in early 2002.
David Bell directed the 2001 NAMT staging and is expected to helm the production at the Norma Terris, Goodspeed's developmental space devoted to full productions of new works.
The show has been an audience favorite for evoking memories of TV icons of the 1950s, when good and bad were in black and white, and for tunefully telling the story of the lost 1990 lawyer trying to make sense of his life. The musical is apparently inspired by a real-life dispute over the use of Lone Ranger regalia by actor Clayton Moore (1914-1999), the onetime TV hero who made late career public appearances much to the chagrin of rights holders of the Lone Ranger image. Carnelia and Bell's conceit includes a trio of singing cowboys who help create the flavorful world of parents, children, then, now — and the emotional insecurity in between. Steve Orich is musical supervisor and orchestrator and Heather Chittenden-Laughlin musical directed in Missouri and at the NAMT fest. Kay Cole choreographed.
The NAMT fest company included Romain Frugé as Jim the lawyer; Gerard Canonico as boy Jimmy; Hal Robinson as Benjamin Gurney (the aging actor who played Red Rock Brody on TV years ago); Brad Anderson as youthful hero Red Rock Brody; Sally Wilfert as Gurney's daughter, Jenny; Reed Birney as Barry; Doug Ballard as Stanage; Blake Adams as Grant Parker; with Carnelia, Kevyn Morrow and Roger Seyer as the cowboy trio.
Goodspeed Musicals is the prestigious non-profit theatre company that operates the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT, and The Norma Terris in Chester, CT. Its mission is preserving old musicals in revival (and sometimes revising old scripts) and giving voice to new work.
— By Kenneth Jones