It's Good to Be Alive: Cy Coleman and Avery Corman's Great Ostrovsky Sings in Philly

News   It's Good to Be Alive: Cy Coleman and Avery Corman's Great Ostrovsky Sings in Philly Bob Gunton, Broadway's original Juan Peron of Evita, bites into another juicy part March 6 with the first performance of Cy Coleman and Avery Corman's musical, The Great Ostrovsky, at Philadelphia's Prince Music Theater.
Louise Pitre and Bob Gunton in rehearsal for The Great Ostrovsky
Louise Pitre and Bob Gunton in rehearsal for The Great Ostrovsky

This is a regional testing of the waters for the new musical, set in the New York Yiddish theatre community in the early 20th century. Alan King was once mentioned for the title role, when the show was in previous development.

Louise Pitre (Mamma Mia!), Rachel Ulanet (Saturday Night), Paul Kandel, Jonathan Hadary (Gypsy with Tyne Daly), Nick Corley (A Christmas Carol), Daniel Marcus (Urinetown, The Fabulist), Ed Staudenmayer, Jeff Edgerton and Kirsten Wyatt share the stage with Gunton.

Opening is March 13. Performances continue to March 28.

The staging is co-directed and choreographed by Patricia Birch and co-directed by Douglas C. Wager. Designers are Zach Brown (set and costumes) and Howell Binkley (lighting). Music director is Steven L. Gross.

* The Great Ostrovsky had a private reading in Philadelphia Dec. 15, 2003, at Prince Music Theater in anticipation of the March 2004 world premiere there.

Composer and co-lyricist Coleman and book writer and co-lyricist Avery Corman were in attendance for the reading.

Gunton was Tony Award-nominated for his work in Evita and the Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd. His Broadway credits also include Roza, Passion, Big River, Working, King of Hearts.

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Is The Great Ostrovsky a big, traditional musical comedy?

"It's not big," Prince producing artistic director Marjorie Samoff previously told Playbill On-Line. "And remember, this is the Prince: I don't know how traditional it's going to end up being. Although I love the traditional form, work here usually has a twist."

The show, with a cast of 12-14, is about a big personality from the New York Yiddish stage of the 1920s, but "it's really about the relationship of an artist to his audience and to big business. It's a period, but has some contemporary take. And it's funny — a happy ending."

In 2004, Prince Music Theater, which began as American Music Theater Festival 20 years ago, also offers a new musical version of the play, Gemini, and a production of William Bolcom's revised Casino Paradise.

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At various times in its development, The Great Ostrovsky was known as Ostrovsky and It's Good to Be Alive. At one point, it was mentioned as a vehicle for comedian-actor Alan King.

"Meet David Ostrovsky, an artist of monumental talent, with self-confidence to match, who suddenly finds himself fighting for his own survival in a bustling world of aspiring artists and hustling promoters, left-wing idealists and girls who just want to be stars," reads the Prince announcement.

Known as a master melodist, composer Coleman is the Tony Award-winner who penned scores for The Will Rogers Follies, Barnum, I Love My Wife, Wildcat, On the Twentieth Century, Little Me and The Life. He is not known for writing lyrics for his musical projects, but did co-write the book to The Life.

For Prince Music Theater information, call (215) 569-9700 or visit www.princemusictheater.org.