The Jewish Repertory Theatre in New York City is mulling the world premiere of a new musical, Abie's Island Rose, to replace a planned revival of Funny Girl, for the spring 2000 slot.
No formal announcement has been made by JRT artistic director Ran Avni, but the new Caribbean-set tuner, inspired by the long-running 1922 hit, Abie's Irish Rose, is apparently a done deal, according to production sources.
Inspired by the Jewish-boy-meets-Irish-Catholic-girl premise of the smash play, Abie's Irish Rose, the all-original Abie's Island Rose is a four-character musical about a young Jewish student who falls in love with an Afro-Caribbean woman while studying medicine on the mythical island of Tornados.
Book is by Ron Sproat ("Dark Shadows"), lyrics by Richard Engquist (Kuni Leml) and Frank Evans (Dinner at Eight) and music and direction are by Doug Katsaros (conductor of Footloose).
Rumored for one of the leads is Heather MacRae, who is being wooed for the role of Abie's mother. Engquist's Kuni-Leml was embraced by JRT when it was revived two seasons ago.
Reached March 6, Funny Girl director Richard Sabellico (JRT's Home of the Brave, The Jazz Singer) confirmed to Playbill On-Line that the show is off the JRT schedule for 2000, but he is continuing to develop a revised revival of the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill-Isobel Lennart musical for a future staging. He has the blessing of the creative team's representatives, he said.
The 1964 musical biography of Fanny Brice includes lavish faux Ziegfeld Follies production numbers and requires a unique star, making revivals costly, difficult to cast and rare. Barbra Streisand starred in the Broadway production and in the film version, launching her into superstardom.
-- By Kenneth Jones