A preferred locale of Tennessee Williams plays, New Orleans hasn't had much action on the musical front, but that may be changing. Last season saw Michael John LaChiusa update Medea to a Bayou-based Marie Christine, and producers Kathleen Raitt and Bill Haber are currently developing a new tuner called Storyville, a twisty love story between a quadroon and an adventurer set in Louisiana's fabled red light district.
Judith Paige Mitchell penned the book, which is not based on other source material. Martin Silvestri is the composer, and Joel Higgins (yes, the "Silver Spoons" actor) is the lyricist.
Asked about the project, producer Raitt told Playbill On-Line (March 6), "We're in the second year of the developmental stage. We had a first reading of it in December ." Matt Lenz, associate director on Beauty and the Beast, staged the reading, with Patrick Vaccariello serving as musical director. Reading participants included Tamara Tunie, Steve Blanchard, Eddie Korbich (Sweeney Todd, Carousel, Seussical) and Lawrence Clayton.
Storyville's plot, set at the turn of the last century, tells of "a woman of color, a Madam, who meets an adventurer. There are lots of twists and turns," Raitt told PBOL.
The next step for Storyville won't come until fall. "We're moving forward on it," Raitt said. "At that point we'll know whether to do another reading or a workshop." Haber and Raitt are also currently developing the musical Nothing in Common (formerly titled "Nicolette and Aucassin") and the solo comedy, The Book Club. Actor Higgins appeared as the Devil in a 1998 Damn Yankees at the St. Louis MUNY. He previously collaborated with composer Silvestri on the musical Fields of Ambrosia, which played at NJ's George Street Playhouse in 1993 and in London's West End three years later. TheaterMania has reported that they're also working on turning the movie "Johnny Guitar" into a musical.
--By David Lefkowitz