A cast of four will tell the little-known story of lyricist John Latouche in Taking a Chance on Love, a world premiere revue presented by The York Theatre Company Feb. 15-March 26.
Jerry Dixon (Once on This Island), Donna English (Off-Broadway's Ruthless), Pam Isaacs (The Life) and Eddie Korbich (Carousel) will sing songs from such Latouche vehicles as The Golden Apple, Candide and Cabin in the Sky. Devised by Erik Haagensen, the two-act tuner uses Latouche's letters, journals and poetry to fill in the blanks between such songs as "Lazy Afternoon" and the revue's title number, taken from Cabin in the Sky.
Previews begin Feb. 15 at the York's home in The Theatre at St. Peter's, Lexington at 54th Street in Manhattan. Official opening is March 2.
Explored in the piece will be the contradictory elements in the life of Latouche: Gay yet married, a patriot who wrote for FDR but was blacklisted for communist sympathies, gifted but destructive. He died at age 41.
York artistic director James Morgan directs Taking a Chance on Love and designs the set. Musical staging is by Janet Watson and musical direction is by Jeffrey R. Smith. Other designers are Suzy Benzinger (costumes) and Ryan K. Schmidt (lighting). Tickets are $40. For information, call (212) 239-6200.
York, the voice of intimate musical theatre in New York City, previously scheduled Taking a Chance on Love for November 1999-January 2000, but opted to put Jolson and Company in that slot.
Expected in Taking a Chance on Love are songs from Candide, The Golden Apple, Cabin in the Sky and more. The show represents such composers as Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Vernon Duke and Jerome Moross.
Lyricist-librettist John Treville Latouche was born in Richmond, VA, in 1917. He wrote lyrics to existing music by Chopin, and teamed with Ellington for Beggar's Holiday (1946) which York presented in concert Oct. 1-3, 1999, in its Musicals in Mufti series.
Other Latouche shows include From Vienna (1939), Banjo Eyes and The Lady Comes Across (both with Duke in 1941), Rhapsody (1944, music by Fritz Kreisler), Polonaise (1945, music by Chopin), The Vamp (1955, music by James Mundy). He also penned the opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe.
Later this season, York will present Postcards on Parade, with book and lyrics by Kenward Elmslie ("The Grass Harp") and music by Steven Taylor, called "an absurdly funny love story which takes a phantasmagoric look at the quirky world of postcards and postcard collectors."
-- By Kenneth Jones