Pegasus Players, the popular non-Equity company in Chicago that offered the American premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Saturday Night in 1999, has landed the 2001 world premiere of the musical, Muscle, by James Lapine, composer William Finn and lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh.
The full-length tuner, once a project being developed by Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, will preview June 1, 2001, open June 6 and continue to July 15, Pegasus executive director Arlene Crewdson told Playbill On-Line May 25.
The musical concerns an intellectual who becomes obsessed with bodybuilding. Previously, in a one-act form, a Lapine-Sondheim treatment of Muscle was once going to be paired with the one-act musical, Passion, also by Sondheim and Lapine. When Passion became a full-length piece, Muscle was pulled and not flexed again by those collaborators.
Crewdson said she received a call and an offer from Lapine earlier this spring, and she embraced the idea. A director has not been announced. She told Playbill On-Line she assumed Lapine had heard of Pegasus from Sondheim, who was in residence with Pegasus when Saturday Night was being honed (orchestrator Jonathan Tunick, a Finn collaborator, also worked with Pegasus). Saturday Night, a 1954 script that emerged in the 1990s, subsequently had a 1999 winter-spring run in New York City at Off-Broadway's Second Stage.
Lapine and Finn collaborated on the Tony Award-winning Falsettos and Off-Broadway's A New Brain. Ellen Fitzhugh's lyrics have been heard in the 1985 Broadway musical, Grind, and Off-Broadway's Diamonds and the developing Paper Moon, which played Paper Mill Playhouse in 1993. The staging of Saturday Night in 1999 was a "boon to our reputation," said Pegasus's Crewdson. Also being presented in 2000-2001 are the new works Ev'rytime I Feel the Spirit, by David Barr, about gospel-opera singer Marian Anderson, and a one-man show featuring Chicago broadcaster John Callaway (Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway's father), John Callaway Tonight.
For information about Pegasus Players, call (773) 878 9761.
-- By Kenneth Jones