A new Richard Maltby-directed musical borrowing pop songs from the 1960s and a musical version of Frank Capra's populist film comedy/melodrama "Meet John Doe" fill out the season in Chester, CT.
Caraboo comes under the umbrella of a new initiative at Goodspeed called "Brand New Musical!," which means theatregoers will be more aware than ever that the Terris mandate is "works in progress." The run is shorter than usual, there will be less scenic punch, and the ever-evolving show will be presented with script in hand. The setup is new for Terris, which usually sees fully realized productions. The two other shows will be full stagings.
Caraboo, Princess of Javasu will be produced as a staged reading May 19-21 and May 26-28.
According to the Goodspeed announcement, "It will be a full musical but with less focus on costumes and scenery and more focus on the songs and dialogue. Furthermore, the creative team will be at every performance to see how their show is playing and make changes continuously."
Caraboo, Princess of Javasu has a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman ('night, Mother, The Secret Garden, The Color Purple). Gary Griffin directed Broadway's The Color Purple, as well as a handful of Encores! concerts. Music is by Jenny Giering, lyrics are by Beth Blatt. The show was developed during Giering and Blatt's residency at the O'Neill Theatre Center in 2003 and debuted at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's 17th Annual Festival of New Musicals.
"Caraboo, Princess of Javasu is the true story of a 19th century girl who wanted more — and got it all!," according to Goodspeed. "With no money, no job and nothing to lose, Mary Baker transforms herself from British maid to exotic princess. With a little luck and the help of a handsome Irish con artist, 'Princess Caraboo' captivates everyone around her. Dazzling and daring, she manages to find love and friendship even after her true identity is discovered."
The next production for 2006 will be The 60's Project (Aug. 10-Sept. 3), "which tells the story of a generation. An age of innocence. An era of protest. The events of the '60s shaped the nation while the music defined it. From the sweet simplicity of 'Chapel of Love' to the radical 'The Times They Are A-Changin',' relive America's most dramatic decade with a group of young friends fighting to make a difference and find their place in an ever-changing world. The sights and sounds of a generation are brought to life in this powerful new musical you will never forget."
Conceived by Janet Brenner, who produced Off-Broadway's Closer Than Ever, The 60's Project was also written by Brenner and Ken Levine. Richard Maltby, Jr. (Broadway's Ring of Fire, Fosse, Ain't Misbehavin') directs, and his Ring of Fire collaborator Lisa Shriver will choreograph.
In addition to being creative partners, Maltby and Brenner are married.
(Maltby is on record saying he hates the term "juke box musical" because it suggests a random collection of tunes — a concert. So one might expect The 60's Project to have genuine characters whose stories are told through the music of the era.)
The final production at The Norma Terris Theatre will be Meet John Doe (Nov. 9-Dec. 3). With a book Andrew Gerle and Eddie Sugarman, and additional story by Matt August, "this gripping new musical tells the tale of a Depression-era reporter who pumps new life into a dying newspaper with a hoax that ignites a national frenzy to save 'John Doe' from jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. Scrambling to keep the stunt going, she recruits a washed up ballplayer to play the part. But how far will she go to keep up the scam of the century?"
Andrew Gerle, whose Off-Broadway credits include The Tutor, wrote the music for Meet John Doe, while Eddie Sugarman, an actor who appeared in Broadway's Ragtime, composed the lyrics. Eric Schaeffer (Broadway's Putting It Together, London's The Witches of Eastwick) will direct.
Meet John Doe appeared in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's 17th Annual Festival of New Musicals.
The stories of both Caraboo and Meet John Doe were seen as films — "Princess Caraboo" (1994) and Frank Capra's "Meet John Doe" (1941).
For information about subscriptions and work at Goodspeed Musicals' mainstage at the Goodspeed Opera House, visit www.goodspeed.org.