Chicago's Goodman Theatre is interested in producing the Claibe Richardson-Stephen Cole musicalization of the 1955 Robert Mitchum film noir The Night of the Hunter, actress Dorothy Loudon told Playbill On-Line . Loudon voiced the part originated on screen by Lillian Gish on a Varese Sarabande concept album of the musical due out Oct. 6.
Loudon said if the Goodman plans panned out, Robert Falls (The Young Man from Atlanta, The Rose Tattoo) would direct. When contacted by PBOL, the Goodman press office was unaware of any plans for the show, saying they had to check on the matter.
Originally workshopped at NY's Vineyard Theatre, June 1996, The Night Of The Hunter was recorded Dec. 3, 1998, with Ron Raines, Jonathan Freeman, Sally Mayes and Loudon doing the vocal honors. The show has music by Claibe Richardson (The Grass Harp) and lyrics by Steven Cole.
Robert Mitchum had a long and varied film career, but two of his greatest roles were both psychopathic meanies. He's better known for Cape Fear (later remade), but he also sent shudders through the aisles as a homicidal preacher in Night Of The Hunter, the only film directed by Charles Laughton.
That movie was also remade (as a TV pic starring Richard Chamberlain) and is now the subject of a musical by the same folks who created Grossinger's, Richardson and Cole. Richardson is best known for the Broadway score, The Grass Harp, which showcased Barbara Cook. (Cook's version of the song Chain of Love is part of the Metropolitan Opera Guild's CD collection, "100 Years of the American Musical Theatre.") Richardson also written incidental scores for a Broadway revival of The Royal Family, and The Curse of an Aching Heart starring Faye Dunaway.
Lyricist and librettist Cole has written several musicals, including two recent Texas productions--Dodsworth starring Hal Linden, Beth McVey and Dee Hoty, at Casa Manana, and After the Fair at Lyric Stage this past February. His new work, Time After Time, with music by Jeffrey Saver, is expected to premiere in Casa Manana's 1998 season.
Mayes appeared on Broadway in She Loves Me, Off-Broadway in Closer Than Ever and will soon be in the regional staging of the Patsy Cline musical, Honky Tonk Angel. Freeman was also in She Loves Me (as the waiter creating "a romantic atmosphere"), while Raines starred in Teddy And Alice and Off-Broadway's Olympus On My Mind. Lewis is currently playing Mama in Chicago; Loudon starred in Annie and Comedy Tonight.
Other singers include Alet Oury, George Lee Andrews, Andrea Bowen and Frankie Gallaso.
Asked about how she was tapped for the Lillian Gish role, Rachel Cooper, on the Hunter CD, Loudon told Playbill On-Line (Dec. 3), "They just called me. The phone rang. Plus, I know Stephen Cole and really admire Claibe's work. So they sent over a tape, and it's a truly beautiful score." Loudon's songs include "One More Harvest" and "The Wind Blows."
"I think they're doing the CD first to get interest going," she said. "It's very difficult to raise money for shows now, and people are afraid to take chances. Still, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago is apparently very interested in the show." Loudon said the musical arrangements (full orchestra) for the CD were first recorded in Los Angeles, and that the New York performers are singing to the pre-taped score.
Loudon's last theatrical venture was a concert staging of Sweet Adeline at City Center.
Loudon declined to discuss rumors (Aug. 14) that have her taking a role in the upcoming Kander & Ebb musical Over & Over at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. A spokesman at the Signature said he had no knowledge of Loudon's being cast.