In Royal Garb By William Ivey Long, Barrett, Fellner, English Ascend to Musical Princesses

News   In Royal Garb By William Ivey Long, Barrett, Fellner, English Ascend to Musical Princesses Brent Barrett, Jenny Fellner and Donna English are expected to be among stars in the pre-Broadway run of Princesses, the new musical comedy about fathers, daughters and showbiz, this summer in Seattle.

Playbill.com also learned that the anticipated design team for the production bowing at 5th Avenue Theatre Aug. 9 will include scenic designer Douglas Schmidt (the recent revivals of 42nd Street and Into the Woods), lighting designer Ken Billington (Chicago, Riverdance, Dance of the Vampires) and costume designer William Ivey Long (The Producers, Hairspray).

Barrett, Fellner and English all have a history with the development of the original musical comedy by director-conceiver-lyricist David Zippel (City of Angels, The Woman in White), composer Matthew Wilder ("Mulan") and librettists Bill and Cheri Steinkellner (TV's "Cheers"). Barrett has appeared in readings and presentations of Princesses, while English and Fellner played their roles in the developmental staging for Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut in fall 2004.

The pre-Broadway tryout of Princesses will play Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre Aug. 9-28. A Broadway transfer is expected in late September toward an October opening, with Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley leading the producing partners. No official Broadway dates have been announced, and a spokesperson for 5th Avenue Theatre would not comment on casting April 14.

5th Avenue is where Hairspray premiered before its smash Broadway success.

David Zippel conceived the idea for Princesses , inspired by the children's novel, "A Little Princess." This will mark Zippel's Broadway directorial debut. Princesses is billed as "a fresh and innovative new musical-within-a-musical about a group of jaded private school girls who stage 'A Little Princess' with the help of one girl's movie star father," according to 5th Avenue.

In Princesses Barrett (a popular Billy Flynn in Chicago) will play aging Hollywood idol Kevin Finch (originally Finck). Fellner (once of Broadway's Mamma Mia!) is his teen daughter, Miranda. English (Goodspeed's On the Twentieth Century and They All Laughed) will play music teacher Ms. Nibbey (who also appears as mean Miss Minchin in the show-within-the-show).

Like most boarding school girls, the hip teens of the Reardon school hate music class, love shopping and have no interest in putting on a show. Enter America's hottest action hero to direct the school play. All the girls are crazy for him, except for one — his daughter, who barely knows him.

The role of young Hollywood hunk, Brad, who complicates the situation, was played by Matt Cavenaugh (Urban Cowboy) in fall 2004 at Goodspeed (where Rex Smith was dad Kevin).

The musical "blends contemporary pop and traditional theatre tunes for a delightfully comic look at father-daughter relationships," according to 5th Avenue."

Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford is choreographer. Lynne Shankel (The Thing About Men, Summer of '42, Altar Boyz) is musical director.

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David Armstrong, producing artistic director for The 5th Avenue Theatre, said in a statement, "We believe strongly that Princesses will grow up and do big things on Broadway. Since the success of Hairspray, which won eight Tony Awards in 2002, The 5th Avenue has emerged as a national leader in the development of new musicals. Now Broadway producers frequently seek us out as partners to help bring significant new works like Princesses to the stage. ...Once again Seattle audiences can see Broadway’s next hit musical, with the original Broadway cast, before anyone else in the country."

For single ticket information for the Seattle engagement of Princesses, visit www.5thavenuetheatre.org.

"A Little Princess" is the beloved Frances Hodgson Burnett novel for young people. Andrew Lippa and Brian Crawley have written a Broadway-aimed version of the novel that played a developmental run in California in 2004.