CT's Goodspeed Opera House ends its current season with the Rudyard Kipling-based musical Just So , beginning performances Nov. 5, opening for the press Nov. 22, and running through Dec. 13 at the Goodspeed-At-Chester venue.
This percussive, contemporary musical adaptation of Kipling's "Just So Stories" has music by George Stiles, and book/lyrics by Anthony Drewe.
Set at the beginning of time, the musical introduces the Eldest Magician who has created a world of beasts and birds and fish. Everything is "just so," until Pau Amma the Crab began playing with the ocean, causing a flood that threatened the other animals. To stop the crab, the Elephant's Child goes on a quest to the Limpopo River, and discovers many lessons incorporating classic Kipling tales like "How the Leopard Got His Spots," "How the Elephant Got His Trunk," and "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin."
Just So is co-produced by British mega-producer Cameron Mackintosh (The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables). Kipling received the highest honor in literature, the Nobel Prize, for his classic "The Jungle Book."
Stile and Drewe collaborated previously on British musicals Warts and All, Navel Fluff and Other Trivial Pursuits and Honk!. Stiles also wrote music for adaptations of Moll Flanders, Tom Jones, and The Three Musketeers. Just So ends the current Goodspeed season; no shows have yet been announced for 1999.
Tickets to Just So at the Goodspeed Norma Terris Theatre are available through the box office, (860) 873 8668.
In other Goodspeed news, recently, we've seen an all-male Romeo And Juliet (titled R & J), not to mention a modernized film version starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. But is America ready for a rock & roll Romeo?
We're likely to find out in 1999, courtesy of Terrence Mann, the two-time Tony nominated Broadway musical actor, who's busy composing a pop rock version of William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy. Goodspeed Opera House press rep Jennifer Wislocki told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 4), "We are talking with [Mann] about the possibility of a January/February 1999 workshop, either on the mainstage or in our theatre in Chester [CT]."
Few details are currently available about the production, though Wislocki says Mann had initially thought of titling the musical "R & J" but then had to think of something else when the same-named Off-Broadway drama became a hit. (Joe Calarco's play closes in NY Nov. 29.) At the moment, Mann's work-in-progress is being called Romeo And Juliet.
A Tony nominee for both Les Miserables and Beauty And The Beast, Mann most recently appeared on Broadway in the pre-vamped version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. He also played an unscrupulous toy-maker in the Jerry Herman TV musical, "Mrs. Santa Claus."
-- By Sean McGrath and David Lefkowitz