MacDermot, perhaps best known as the composer of Hair, and his 12-piece band will accompany a 35-member student cast in a fully-staged benefit performance of his musical version of William Saroyan's classic novel. The $100 benefit 2 PM March 9 is part of a short run of performances by the undergrad Marymount theatre company, under the direction of Patricia Hoag Simon at the Theresa Lang Theatre, 221 East 71st Street, in New York City.
Proceeds from benefit ticket sales will establish an academic award at Marymount Manhattan College administered by the Uniformed Firefighters Association, honoring the heroes of 9/11.
Other Human Comedy performances play 8 PM March 5-8. For reservations and information, call (212) 774-0760.
William Dumaresq penned the libretto to the musical, which earned an encouraging review from The New York Times' Frank Rich when The Public Theater staged it back in 1983. It made the leap to Broadway in April 1984 and quickly fizzled. A cast album spread the word of the score, and regional productions followed (Linda Balgord, Marcus Lovett and Bob Mason appeared in a Jeff Award-nomintaed Chicago staging by William Pullinsi).
This revival has choreography by Ed Kresley of American Dance Machine, sets by Edward Gianfrancesco, lights by Phil Monat, costumes by Kirche Zeile, sound by One Dream Sound, vocal direction by Norma Curley and musical direction by David John Madore. Director Simon told Playbill On-Line the production is more physically fleshed-out than the Public and Broadway stagings, which took an Our Town approach and, according to observers, was more like a static, staged oratorio than a fully moving musical. Wilford Leach directed.
Simon, who is an associate professor of musical theatre at Marymount, felt the humane musical was a perfect show for the post-9/11 period. The story is set in 1943 Ithaca, CA, and focuses on the MacCauley family. The father has died, the older brother has gone off to war, and the piece "has a lot in it about people living on in others," Simon said. "It feels right being done by kids."
The original cast of The Human Comedy featured Rex Smith, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Joe Kolinski, Delores Hall, Kathleen Rowe McAllen and Gordon Connell, among others. Stephen Geoffreys was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor (Musical), for playing young Homer.
Marymount's department of theatre has a history of guest artists working the students. Charles Strouse, Kenward Elmslie, Robert Lindsay Nassif and Paul Scott Goodman have all been involved with shows there.