Krieger-Russell Make 'Ugly Duckling' Sing in Ducky Premiere, Jan. 22

News   Krieger-Russell Make 'Ugly Duckling' Sing in Ducky Premiere, Jan. 22 Composer Henry Krieger and lyricist-librettist Bill Russell, known for their serious-minded Broadway musical, Side Show, are opting for something sillier in 2000, with the Jan. 22 world premiere of Everything's Ducky, a take on the Ugly Ducking fable.

Composer Henry Krieger and lyricist-librettist Bill Russell, known for their serious-minded Broadway musical, Side Show, are opting for something sillier in 2000, with the Jan. 22 world premiere of Everything's Ducky, a take on the Ugly Ducking fable.

The new tuner began previews Jan. 19 in a presentation by TheatreWorks of Palo Alto, CA. Performances of the show about a "country chick's journey to big-city swandom" continue to Feb. 13 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

Director Gip Hoppe helms the story of Serena, a young duckling whose appearance is mocked by the barnyard folk. She leaves to find love and success in the big city and ends up in an underground club called Poultry in Motion, where young ducks fall prey to wolves. She escapes and meets a fashion photographer and a fashion exec who turn her into a supermodel.

Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (Scotland Road, Three Viewings) co scripted with Russell.

An extension of Krieger and Russell's beauty-and-freak themes in Side Show, about conjoined twins who play vaudeville, Everything's Ducky has a serious core underneath its bright shell, the authors say. "It's about acquiring self-esteem, taking each day with a plucky attitude, and not letting anyone make you feel like you aren't good enough," Krieger, who also wrote tunes to Dreamgirls, said in production notes.

Everything's Ducky stars Angela Robinson (Paper Mill Playhouse's Dreamgirls) as Serena and Michael McEachran (Broadway's Little Me) as Prince Drake. The company includes Gina Ferrall, Danny Burstein, Karen Murphy, J.B. Wing, Andrea Chamberlain, David McDonald, Josh Prince and Bobby Daye.

Director Hoppe is also a playwright, known for Jackie: An American Life. Linda Goodrich choreographs.

Designers are Robert Bissinger (set) and Beaver Bauer (costumes).

Tickets are $20-$37. Call (650) 903-6000 for information.

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Krieger is no stranger to musicals with feathered characters at their core: He composed Love's Fowl, a "multi-media puppet opera" at Off Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop in 1998. Original Cast Records preserved the spoofy operatic score on disc.

The concept of that show concerned a scholar on the life of Chicken Little who discovers "The Secret Diaries of La Pulcina Piccola," a revelatory document scratched into bark, leaves, and paper. According to creators Susan Vitucci and Krieger, there was much, much more to Chicken Little's story than the disastrous "the sky is falling" incident. Much of Love's Fowl concerns Pulcina's romances, adventures out west and out-foxing of a fox.

-- By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson, David Lefkowitz