Kyle Dean Massey Is Lucky Guy in Musical About Nashville Dreamers; Merman, Collela, Jordan on Board

News   Kyle Dean Massey Is Lucky Guy in Musical About Nashville Dreamers; Merman, Collela, Jordan on Board
 
Varla Jean Merman, Leslie Jordan, Jim Newman, Jenn Collela, Savannah Wise and Kyle Dean Massey will kick up their heels in the new Off-Broadway country-western musical comedy Lucky Guy, producers announced.

Varla Jean Merman and Leslie Jordan
Varla Jean Merman and Leslie Jordan Photo by Michael Lamont Photography

Written and directed by Willard Beckham, the tale of Nashville stardom begins performances April 28 at the Little Shubert Theatre. Opening night is May 19. The limited engagement plays to July 24.

Massey, formerly of Broadway's Next to Normal, plays the kid reaching for Music City stardom.

Producer Avid Theatricals bills the show this way: "Welcome to Nashville — a town full of colorful characters all chasing after the very same dream: a smash hit record. To beat the odds and strike gold (or, better yet, platinum), it takes one great song, serious talent, or lots of luck — and preferably all three. Featuring an array of musical styles with salutes to Country, Broadway, Vaudeville, Bluegrass, Pop, and even Hawaiian, Lucky Guy weaves a tale of down-home dreamers and low-down schemers all willing to do whatever it takes to come out on top in the cut-throat world of Music City, USA."

Emmy Award-winner Jordan is known for TV's "Will & Grace" and Off-Broadway's My Trip Down the Pink Carpet; Varla Jean Merman (also known as Jeffery Roberson) of Chicago and TV's "Ugly Betty"; Massey has appeared in Wicked and Xanadu and Off-Broadway's Altar Boyz; Colella's credits include Urban Cowboy, High Fidelity and the Sondheim Philharmonic concert; Newman appeared in Broadway's Curtains and Steel Pier; and Wise performed in Broadway's Rock of Ages and Ragtime.

The Lucky Guy creative team includes Rob Bissinger (set design), Paul Miller (lighting design), William Ivey Long (costume design), Kurt Fischer (sound design), Todd Ellison (orchestrations and musical supervision), and A.C. Ciulla (choreography). The musical had a developmental run produced by Goodspeed Musicals in spring 2009. The run at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut starred Gary Beach, John Bolton, Stacia Fernandez, Autumn Hurlbert, Katie Adams and 2009 Outer Critics Circle Award nominee Josh Grisetti (Off-Broadway's Enter Laughing) in the title role of singing cowboy Billy Ray.

The Goodspeed staging included revisions made since earlier unrelated regional productions of the show.

Kyle Dean Massey

Writer Beckham, a native of Hominy, OK, is a graduate of The Cleveland Institute of Music. He made his debut as a composer-lyricist at Carnegie Hall and was commissioned to write the first musical comedy ever produced in Korea, Magic in the Mirror, directed by Baayork Lee. As a performer, Beckham toured with the first and second national companies of No, No, Nanette. On Broadway, he originated the roles of Geoffrey in Something's Afoot and Richard Tidewell in The Utter Glory of Morrisey Hall. Lucky Guy earned him an ASCAP Special Award for Musical Theatre.

Of the earlier Goodspeed run in Chester, CT, where critics stayed away due to the developmental nature of the engagement, writer Beckham told Playbill.com, "We had such an incredible cast there and with that level of talent it enabled me to have the chance to make major changes in the scenes and the score and try them on for size in a safe environment. By the end of our run there, I learned just what I liked and did not like — what worked and what didn't work — thanks to this sort of experimentation. I really went out on a limb in a few instances. At one point I had to rewrite an entire number at the top of the show literally overnight and it was onstage the next day."

What sort of exposure to musical theatre did a kid from Oklahoma get?

Beckham explained, "When I was a boy growing up in the small town of Hominy, I listened exclusively to opera and Broadway recordings at home but never country. Country was what was being played on all the jukeboxes in every cafe or diner and on almost every radio station back then. You couldn't get away from it. It was not until I started writing and lived here in New York City that I came to appreciate country and now just love it. It was, I guess you could say, an acquired taste for me. Thank goodness for changing taste buds."

Beckham said that the musical "role models" for Lucky Guy were many. "Thanks to all those Broadway show albums I listened to, I have tried to pay homage to some of the shows that influenced me the most," he said. "Hello, Dolly! was my all-time favorite as a boy and No, No, Nanette was the show that got me my Equity card. And of course, there was Annie and Something's Afoot, both of which were terrific shows for the entire family."

Little Shubert Theatre is at 422 W. 42nd Street between 9th & Dyer Avenues. Tickets are $44-$86.50 (premium seating is also available) and are now on sale through TeleCharge.com or at (212) 239-6200.

For more information, visit Lucky Guy online at www.luckyguythemusical.com.

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