L.A.'s Ahmanson Searching for Replacement of Bway-Bound Never Gonna Dance

News   L.A.'s Ahmanson Searching for Replacement of Bway-Bound Never Gonna Dance Following the news that the producers of the musical Never Gonna Dance decided to head straight to Broadway rather than play an out-of-tryout engagement at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre, the California venue has issued a statement.

Gordon Davidson artistic director/producer of Center Theatre Group (which houses the Ahmanson as well as the Mark Taper Forum) stated, "Center Theatre Group has a signed commitment from the producers of Never Gonna Dance to present the pre-Broadway engagement of the musical at the Ahmanson Theatre from January to March 2004. Unfortunately for Los Angeles audiences, when a Broadway theatre became available to the producers, they decided not to honor their commitment to CTG and will go directly into New York this fall. We regret this unprecedented decision, and we have immediately begun the search for another presentation of equal stature to replace it. We hope to announce our new plans shortly."

Never Gonna Dance, which has been in development for a number of years, was to start the season at California's Ahmanson (Jan. 14-March 7, 2004) before heading to Broadway. The production was highlighted in a recent season announcement.

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According to a released statement from a spokesman for Never Gonna Dance, "To ensure a New York theatre, the producers of Never Gonna Dance have decided to take up the offer of a Broadway house this fall." Citing that the offer may not hold until the spring of 2004 — when the show was expected on Broadway — the producer also stated their interest in bringing the production to Los Angeles as the first stop of a later national tour.

Never Gonna Dance is based on the classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers 1936 RKO film, "Swing Time," featuring a score by Jerome Kern. Librettist Jeffrey Hatcher, director Michael Greif and choreographer Jerry Mitchell are all attached to the project. The songs of Kern featured in Never Gonna Dance boast lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein II, Johnny Mercer, Otto Harbach and Jimmy McHugh. Among the tunes are "Pick Yourself Up," "The Way You Look Tonight," "The Waltz in Swingtime," "A Fine Romance," "Bojangles of Harlem," "Never Gonna Dance," "I Won't Dance," "I'm Old Fashioned," "Dearly Beloved" and "Who."

The Weissberger Theater Group/Jay Harris, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., James Walsh and Ted Hartley/RKO Pictures will produce Never Gonna Dance.

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The show was workshopped in Manhattan Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2001, starring Noah Racey in the Astaire role and Nancy Lemenager (Kiss Me, Kate) in the Rogers part. Producer Harris told Playbill On-Line (June, 2002) future productions will probably star the same two actors. Also featured in the workshop were Peter Bartlett as the owner of Penny's dance studio and David Pittu as bandleader Ricardo.

The story concerns John "Lucky" Garnett (Astaire), a hoofer who, in order to prove his worthiness to the father of the girl he wants to marry, goes to the city to earn his fortune. Once there, he meets Penny Carroll, a dancing instructor. They form a successful dancing act and fall in love. But their romance is threatened by the return of Lucky's old girl and the interference of Penny's admirer, the latin band leader Ricardo Romero.