Comfortable Shoes, an autobiographical musical by entertainer Clint Holmes that was well-received at the Paper Mill Playhouse earlier this year, may be coming to Broadway, according to producer Irving Welzer.
Welzer said the show would start previews at Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, CT, Dec. 28, with an opening date set for Jan. 3, 1997. Once the show closes on Feb. 8, it could be Broadway bound. "We are making changes in the second act book," Welzer noted. "Plus four new songs have been put in since the Paper Mill run.
Clint Holmes is the son of a white British opera singer who met and married his dad, a black American blues musician, when Holmes senior was stationed in London during World War II. Comfortable Shoes tells of Clint Holmes' struggle to feel accepted as an entertainer, and as a person, in our race-conscious society.
Robert Johanson directed the Paper Mill premiere, which opened Feb. 14, 1995, was choreographed by Carrafa and had as music director co composer, Nelson Kole. Adam Wade and Nancy Ringham played Holmes' parents; La Chanze, fresh from Broadway's Company, played Holmes' wife. The show ran for 48 performances, plus 3 staged readings, and in all "received 52 standing ovations," Paper Mill general manager, Geoff Cohen, said.
Eager to discuss the project, producer Irving Welzer enthused, "I heard Clint do the songs three and a half years ago. He's an entertainer extraordinaire, so between his stage presence and the music, the melodies... It's today music and Broadway music." Holmes, La Chanze and Nancy Ringham will reprise their roles in the Hartford/Broadway-bound production, which will be choreographed by Hope Clarke (Jelly's Last Jam) and directed by Reggie Montgomery. The producers are Welzer and Marty Richards, along with Sam Crothers and William G. Lucas.
"Kids can relate to this show," Welzer said, "because it's inspirational; it's about finding out who you are."
Plans for a cast recording are in the works, hopefully to be ready before the Broadway opening. Welzer said he has his eye on a couple of mid-sized Broadway theatres but can't yet go on the record as to specific choices.
Cohen said that due to schedule conflicts, some cast members in the Paper Mill Playhouse mounting won't be in the show in Hartford. Young Scott Ibby-Ranniar, for instance, is going into Andrw Lloyd Webber's Whistle down the Wind.
What will transfer, Cohen assured Playbill On-Line readers, is the show's message: "Comfortable Shoes calls for acceptance between father and son, between family members and the larger population around them. It really hits home."
-- By David Lefkowitz