The 1998 summer season at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT, finishes up, Sept. 18, with the closing of Mirette, the latest musical from Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt, the team who wrote The Fantasticks.
Mirette tells the story of 10-year-old Mirette, who helps her mother run a boarding house for actors in 1890s Paris, but who is secretly inspired by a former tightrope walker, The Great Bellini. In the course of the story she helps him overcome the paralyzing fear that has destroyed his career.
Mirette has a book by Elizabeth Diggs, based on the children's book, Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully.
The musical, which started previews July 1 and opened July 24, was developed at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre in 1996, but this was a full production in the key midsummer middle slot of Goodspeed's three-show mainstage season.
A song from Mirette is featured in (and provides the title for) Jones & Schmidt's 1997 hit Off Broadway revue The Show Goes On, recently released on CD. It's the latest work from the team that produced I Do! I Do!, 110 in the Shade, Celebration, and Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks, the longest-running musical in the world (now in its 39th year).
The cast features Cassandra Kubinski (who played the title role in Goodspeed's 1997 revival of Annie) as Mirette, and James J. Mellon as Bellini.
Also in the cast: Anne Allgood as Madame Gateau (Mirette's mother), plus Marsha Bagwell September Bigelow, Paul Blankenship, Bob Freschi, Michael Hayward-Jones, Leslie Ann Hendricks, Timothy Charles Johnson, Steve Pudenz, Amanda Watkins, Carrie Wilshusen and Jason Wooten.
Andre Ernotte (The Philanthropist, Goblin Market) directs, with choreography by Janet Watson, sets by Neil Patel, costumes by Suzy Benzinger, orchestrations by Larry Moore and musical direction by Michael O'Flaherty.
After Mirette, Goodspeed will present Redhead, a rarely revived murder mystery vehicle for Verdon that won the 1959 Best Musical Tony Award. It runs Sept. 23 to Dec. 13.
Though Redhead won the 1959 Best Musical Tony (a year after The Music Man and a year before Fiorello!),. the vehicle for dancer Gwen Verdon has never been revived on Broadway, and rarely elsewhere. Verdon played Essie Whimple, a worker in a wax museum who tries to solve the murder of a local music hall dance while pursuing the man of her dreams.
The score, by Albert Hague and Dorothy Fields, includes "Look Who's in Love." Other Hague scores include Plain and Fancy, Cafe Crown and TV's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The book was written by Herbert and Dorothy Fields, Sidney Sheldon (the famous mystery novel author) and David Shaw.
Goodspeed's Redhead will be directed by Christopher Ashley, who staged last season's Lucky in the Rain at Goodspeed.
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-- By Robert Viagas