Jolson: The Musical, an award-winning hit in London, may very well make it to Broadway in 1998. First, however, the producers are bringing the show to Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre, opening June 17 and running to Sept. 6. Then it's on to Sydney, Australia, for an opening there Feb. 8, 1998.
Months ago, Jolson had been pegged as one of the first musicals to open in the 1997-98 season, but producer Paul Elliott told Playbill On Line, "The reason we're going to Toronto is so people can come up and have another look, plus we get to see how the show plays to [North] Americans." Elliott is also in the midst of producing a revised Goodbye Girl on the West End.
Aside from "about five minutes of cuts," the Jolson show and cast - Brian Conley as Al Jolson, John Bennett, Sally Ann Triplett -- will remain the same as the London production that ran for two years. Rob Bettinson directs the musical, co-written by him and Francis Essex. Paul Jury servers as musical supervisor and arranger.
Jolson was a blackface comedian who became popular for his soulful renditions of "Mammy," "Swanee" and other songs. Offstage, he was married to singer Ruby Keeler; onstage he called himself "The World's Greatest Entertainer."
Songs in the show include "Carolina In The Morning," "I'm Sitting On Top Of The World," "Toot-Toot-Tootsie Goodbye" and "Baby Face." Jolson begins previews in Toronto June 16. tickets are available thru TicketKing at (416) 872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333. --By David Lefkowitz