The award-winning original musical by composer Stephen Weiner and Chicago-area-based librettist-lyricist Susan DiLallo is being directed by Jeff Award winner Marc Robin. Richard Carsey is music director.
The company is in rehearsal in Lincolnshire, IL, where the resident Marriott Theatre has been a hit with audiences for years. It's one of the nation's most popular theatres, with 30,000 subscribers flocking to the in-the-round venue.
In Once Upon a Time in New Jersey, set in 1956 in a deli in New Jersey, "Sweet deli-man Vinnie loves Angie. Adorable deli-gal Angie loves Rocco. Womanizing Rocco loves Celeste. And sexy Celeste's thug of a husband loves to break legs."
Rocco makes Vinnie an offer he can't refuse — to be Rocco for a week — and Vinnie leaps at the chance to get the girl of his dreams.
Voytko, who appeared in Broadway's Oklahoma! and The Frogs and was the title character in Goodspeed Musicals' recent workshop of Caraboo, Princess of Javasu, plays Angie. Joining her are Will Swenson as Rocco, Jim Weitzer (Broadway's Little Women) as Vinnie, Christine Sherrill as Celeste, Matt Orlando as Billy, Paula Scrofano as Millie, Scott Aiello as Buddy, Norm Boucher as Tony, Michael Accardo as Ed, Cheryl Avery as Loretta, Lara Filip as Conchetta, Liz Baltes as Etta, with Cory Goodrich, Abby Mueller and Stephen Schellhardt. The new American musical comedy about mixed-up identities was one of the winners of The Global Search for New Musicals in Cardiff, Wales.
The Marriott is devoted to revivals and the development of new works. Rick Boynton (the previous artistic director at Marriott, now at Chicago Shakespeare Theater) first read the script for New Jersey when it was submitted to the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) Festival of New Musicals. Marriott has been involved with the project for the past two years.
The creative team for Once Upon a Time in New Jersey includes set designer Thomas M. Ryan, costume designer Nancy Missimi, lighting designer Diane Ferry Williams, sound designer Cecil Averett, and properties designer Gregory Isaac. Dramaturge is Rick Boynton. David Siegel is the orchestrator. Patti Garwood will conduct the Marriott Theatre orchestra.
Opening night is July 12, after previews from July 5. Performances continue to Sept. 10.
Once Upon a Time in New Jersey won the 2003 Richard Rodgers Award and the 2003 Kleban Award for DiLallo's book. The musical has been showcased at staged readings and workshops around the country.
Weiner's Off-Broadway credits include the Manhattan Theatre Club's Obie-Award winning newyorkers (lyrics by Glenn Slater), which received Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Off Broadway Musical, and Hamlet Sings (lyrics by Peter Mills), produced at the Prospect Theater Company. Regional credits include the musical Spittin' Image, which premiered at the Forum Theater in New Jersey (book by Karin Kasdin, lyrics by Laura Szabo-Cohen).
Weiner's awards include the 2000 ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, and the ASCAP Bernice Cohen Award for his unproduced score to Lost in America. Weiner is currently working with lyricist Glenn Slater on The Hudsucker Proxy, which was recently workshopped at the New Voices Festival in Steamboat Springs, CO, as well as a new musical comedy, Iron Curtain, with Peter Mills (book & lyrics).
Susan DiLallo wrote the book and lyrics for the musical adaptation of Pinocchio. Her Off-Broadway credits include That's Life (Outer Critics Circle nominee) and This Week in the Suburbs. Her regional work includes lyrics to A Christmas Valentine and a series of musical fairy tales — The Girl in the 'Hood, If the Shoe Fits and The Luck of the Irish Frog Prince. In addition she wrote the lyrics for the theme song of Barbara Bush's radio show and for the song "If You Still Believe in Me, Save Me," for the Statue of Liberty renovation. She was recently honored with the 2003 Kleban Award for "the most promising librettist in American Musical Theatre," and the Richard Rodgers Award, for Once Upon a Time in New Jersey.
For more information, call (847) 634-0200 or visit www.marriotttheatre.com.
The Marriott Theatre leadership includes Terry James, executive producer, Andy Hite, lead associate artistic director, and Aaron Thielen, associate artistic director.