Music in three-quarter-time, or variations of it, will be heard at Goodspeed Opera House in fall 2001, when Goodspeed Musicals presents Stephen Sondheim's waltz-enriched A Little Night Music, a change from the previously expected King of Hearts.
An official announcement was made Feb. 1, but Playbill On-Line learned Jan. 30 the Sondheim musical, drawn from Ingmar Bergman's "Smiles of a Summer Night," will play the Tony Award-honored musical theatre house in East Haddam, CT, Sept. 28-Dec. 16.
Also on the 2001 slate are the previously-announced world premiere of Joe DiPietro's new Gershwin-punctuated musical, They All Laughed! (June 29-Sept. 22) and a revival of Lerner and Loewe's Brigadoon (March 30-June 23).
Darko Tresnjak, set to direct Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at Long Wharf Theatre this spring, will helm Night Music. The sophisticated musical tells how love makes fools of everyone, focusing on ex-lovers Desiree and Frederick. The 1973 Tony Award winner gave the world "Send in the Clowns." In order to create a rarefied, European world of haunted romance, Sondheim wrote his music in three-quarter time (or variations of it).
* They All Laughed! has a book by the author of Over the River and Through the Woods and a score pulled from the George and Ira Gershwin catalog. The show is drawn from the 1926 Gershwin-Guy Bolton-P.G. Wodehouse tuner, Oh, Kay!, which gave the world, "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Dear Little Girl" and "Do, Do, Do." John Rando directs, and Joey McKneely is choreographer. The score will include "He Loves and She Loves," "The Sweet and Low Down," "Heaven on Earth" and more. Kevin Chamberlin (Seussical) has said in interviews that he expects to appear in the show.
They All Laughed! is a Goodspeed production in association with Jonathan Pollard, Dena Hammerstein and Bernie Kukoff (who are also responsible for producing DiPietro's Off-Broadway hits I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change and Over The River And Through The Woods).
Producer Pollard said this is "the first regional step" toward its commercial future.
"Joe was approached by the Gershwin family to do this project," Pollard told Playbill On-Line Nov. 10, 2000. "He created a Kaufmanesque farce — a screwball comedy with glorious music. What is wonderful about this project is that it's not a huge musical, it's a musical with three sets very much in the tradition of the old-fashioned glorious musicals. It's not a 'mega musical.'"
Pollard said DiPietro took plots points and some songs from Oh, Kay! and reinvented a script. It's still set in the 1920s, during Prohibition.
They All Laughed! was first performed in a series of industry readings in January 2000 with a cast that included Roger Bart, Laura Benanti, Kevin Chamberlain, Donna English, Tovah Feldshuh and Mary Beth Peil.
It's not the first time the songs of George and Ira Gershwin have been plundered for "new" shows: My One and Only, Crazy For You and The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm were all new Broadway constructions using old songs.
Brigadoon is the 1947 Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe fantasy about American hunters who encounter a 200 year-old Scottish town in the highlands. It gave the world "Almost Like Being in Love" and "The Heather on the Hill."
A Little Night Music replaces the revival of King of Hearts, which was in the Goodspeed plan. Playwright Steve Tesich penned the libretto of 1977's King of Hearts, but his book was scrapped on the way to Broadway in 1978 (Joseph Stein replaced him). The show was based on the 1966 film of the same name and was 48-performance flop. Regional theatres and audiences embraced the charm and humanity of the show, however, when Tesich's book and the show's original intent (seen in 1977 at the Westport Country Playhouse) were restored for licensing. The score is by Peter Link, the lyrics by Jacob Brackman. Goodspeed had planned to use the Tesich script. Buzz in the community has King of Hearts as a possibility for 2002 at Goodspeed.
No casting has been announced for the 2001 season.
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— By Kenneth Jones