Kander and Ebb's Skin of Our Teeth Musical Looking for Regional Production

News   Kander and Ebb's Skin of Our Teeth Musical Looking for Regional Production Skin of Our Teeth, the John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joseph Stein musical based on Thornton Wilder's play about the indomitability of mankind, is casting about for a staging somewhere outside New York.

"We just finished a revision and demo on it," Kander told Playbill On-Line Feb. 5. "We need to have a regional production."

Kander and Ebb said they were meeting with director Gabriel Barre and producer David Brown on the afternoon of Feb. 5 to discuss possibilities for the show.

The musical, once titled Over & Over, got off to a rocky start with a 1999 Signature Theatre staging in Arlington, VA. (Among other things, star Bebe Neuwirth abruptly quit the show and was replaced by Sherie René Scott.) The writers went back to the drawing board and in spring 2002 presented a Barre-directed reading at Manhattan Theatre Club. "We were all very happy with the reading," Stein previously told Playbill On-Line.

"We changed the name to something very original," Stein quipped. "We call it Skin of Our Teeth, the Musical, without the original 'the.' People say that's what [the show] is anyway, so I said, 'The hell with it!' We've been working with Gabe for some months now. We're working out a deal with a producer. It's going through those usual pre-production steps."

"The Virginia version was — I hate to use the word 'fiasco' — but I think it was badly mishandled," Stein said. "Characters were added which I felt were unnecessary. It just didn't work properly, but we saw what was wrong, and I think we fixed it." A character, Lulu Shriner, was added to the story in Virginia, where Dorothy Loudon played her. She does not figure into the rewrite.

"We based it on a damn good play," Stein said. "I made a lot of changes, and the third act of the play practically doesn't exist in the musical. Basically, the line of the play, we have kept. And the three major characters we have kept intact. We made the changes that will improve it for a contemporary audience. It has a much more contemporary feel than the play."

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In Over & Over, Sherie Scott, a rising actress who had played Amneris in Disney's tryout of Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida and later starred in the revision, Aida, had the plum role of Sabina, maid to the Antrobus household in the absurdism-flecked story. Scott (who is now known as Sherie Rene Scott and stars in Off-Broadway's Debbie Does Dallas) replaced Bebe Neuwirth in rehearsals Dec. 21, 1998, just two weeks before the Jan. 6 first show of the sold-out premiere run.

Sabina is the maid and narrator in the 1942 play. In Wilder's allegory for human resilience, the Antrobus family survives disasters and dramatic changes of Biblical proportions. Also in the 1999 company were Linda Emond (Mrs. Antrobus), David Garrison (Mr. Antrobus), Megan Lawrence (Gladys), Jim Newman (Henry), Mario Cantone (Bob), Sharon Wilkins (Fortune Teller), Lawrence Redmond (Socrates), Hugh Nees (Homer), Thomas Adrian Simpson (Moses), Bruce Nelson (Jesus), Richard Pelzman (Mammoth), Karl Christian, Kenneth J. Ewing Jr., Daniel Felton, Jason Gilbert, Marc Oka, R. Scott Thompson, Johanna Gerry, Erika Lynn Rupli, Jennifer Swiderski.

Over & Over had a reading in spring 1998 in New York City under Schaeffer's direction, with Michele Pawk as Sabina. Bernadette Peters played Sabina in an earlier reading, not associated with Signature.