The previously "mentioned" Heather MacRae is now the "confirmed" Heather MacRae in the upcoming Jewish Repertory Theatre world premiere musical, Abie's Island Rose.
As first reported here, the four-character musical, beginning at least a four-week New York City run April 29, draws its inspiration from the classic comedy, Abie's Irish Rose, but resets the story (of a Jewish boy falling in love with a girl outside his culture) in the Caribbean. MacRae will be the dismayed Jewish mother, Madeline Feinman, whose son, Abie, a medical student, falls for an Afro-Caribbean nurse.
The musical takes place on two mythical islands, according to the creators: Tornados in the Caribbean and Manhattan on the Hudson.
Joining cabaret singer and actress Heather MacRae, whose Broadway credits include Hair and Falsettos, are Keith Lee Grant (Marie Christine) as Rose's island priest father, comic actor Steve Rosen (of the sketch comedy troupe, Utah Arm) as Abie and Carla Woods (a recent graduate of Cincinnati College Conservatory) as Rose.
MacRae is known recently for her award-winning one-woman show, Songs for My Father, dedicated to her father, Gordon MacRae who starred in the films "Oklahoma!" and "Carousel." As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, Abie's Island Rose is written by Ron Sproat (book), Richard Engquist and Frank Evans (lyrics) and Doug Katsaros (music). Katsaros, musical director and conductor of Broadway's Footloose, also directs.
Emmy Award-nominated Sproat served as head writer for the ABC cult classic "Dark Shadows," currently seen on the Sci-Fi network.
Lyricists Engquist and Evans are both members of the steering committee of BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Engquist received Burns Mantel's Best Play of the Year designation as well as the Outer Critics Circle award for Kuni-Leml, which JRT produced initially as well in 1998.
Engquist also collaborated with Katsaros on Elizabeth and Essex and regional productions of Dennis the Menace. Evans recently completed lyrics for a musical version of the Kaufman-Ferber classic, Dinner At Eight, in development at the Century Center for the Performing Arts.
Haila Strauss (who staged dances for Kuni-Leml) will choreograph. Designers are James Morgan (sets), Mary Jo Dondlinger (lighting) and Daryl Stone (costumes).
Previews begin April 29 at Playhouse 91, 316 East 91st St. Opening is May 7. For information or reservations, call the JRT box office at (212) 831 2000.
-- By Kenneth Jones