How Sunset Boulevard Led Director Lonny Price to His New Musical at Williamstown

Interview   How Sunset Boulevard Led Director Lonny Price to His New Musical at Williamstown The new musical A Legendary Romance, starring Jeff McCarthy, Lora Lee Gayer, and Roe Hartrampf, begins previews August 3.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival production of A Legendary Romance, a new musical about a film producer who must confront a painful chapter in his past when a young producer plans to release his abandoned autobiographical film, receives its world premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival August 3–20 in Williamstown, MA.

At the helm is Tony-nominated director Lonny Price, who came to the romantic musical through his association with the English National Opera, where he most recently directed Sunset Boulevard in London before it transferred to New York. Michael Grade and Michael Linnit, the producers behind Sunset, Sweeney Todd, and Carousel at the ENO, brought the American-set musical A Legendary Romance to Price.

Jeff McCarthy
Jeff McCarthy Photo by Aubrey Reuben

“I just found it really fascinating. It deals with different time periods. It’s very romantic and it’s also political. They have some un-American activities and the 1950s time period,” Price says of the musical that is written by U.K. composer/lyricist Geoff Morrow (who collaborated with Elvis and Barry Manilow in the 1970s) and book writer Timothy Prager, an American living in London who frequently writes for the BBC, in addition to his feature films The Maid, If the Shoe Fits, and Vendetta.

“It was a musical that had something on its mind, and that’s always intriguing to me; that’s always something I want to work with,” Price explains. “Not necessarily things that are just pure entertainment, but just has something on its mind. This has a lot on its mind and it’s very complicated and tricky and I thought, ‘Oh what a wonderful challenge.’”

In A Legendary Romance, Jeff McCarthy stars as film producer Joe Lindy, who, in 1950, was on top of the world, making hit movies with his lover and leading lady Billie Hathaway (played by Lora Lee Gayer). Some four decades later, a young producer digs up Lindy’s abandoned film—an autobiographical cinematic masterpiece—and edits it in such a way that Lindy must go back and reconstruct the moivve, and his life, in order to confront the choices that haunt him.

The cast also features Roe Hartrampf, Jose-Maria Aguila, and Maurice Jones.

Despite its London beginnings, Price feels as though A Legendary Romance is “intrinsically American,” and that it will ultimately find life stateside rather than London. “I think it really probably belongs here,” says Price. “I’m open to anything, though. That will reveal itself, I think, and I just have to allow that and not have too many expectations.”

The creative team eager is to work on the show in another out-of-town try-out, or to workshop it some more before following Williamstown.

“We’ve done an enormous amount of work here, mostly in terms of clarification, because it’s a tricky story.... It [takes place] in peoples heads, different time periods, so we’ve done a lot good work. There’s always more to do. I would love to have another out-of-town production of it; that would be spectacular.”

A Legendary Romance has scenic design by James Noone, costume design by Tracy Christensen, lighting design by Robert Weirzel, sound by Kai Harada, and music direction and orchestrations by Charlie Rosen.

For tickets, visit wtfestival.org.


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