Martin Guerre, the new Boublil-Schonberg musical, will land on Broadway April 15, 2000, for an April 26 opening, at an as-yet-unnamed Broadway theatre. The Cameron Mackintosh-produced tuner will precede its New York engagement with dates in Minneapolis, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Seattle and Los Angeles.
The dates of the Minneapolis stay at the Guthrie Theatre, with previews beginning Sept. 17 for a Sept. 29 opening, have long been known. The rest of the schedule runs as follows:
* Detroit, The Fisher Theatre, beginning Dec. 1
* Washington, D.C., the Kennedy Center, beginning Dec. 23
* Seattle, The Fifth Avenue Theater, beginning Jan. 22, 2000
* Los Angeles, The Ahmanson Theatre, beginning Feb. 16, 2000
* New York City, theatre tba, previews April 15, 2000; opening April 26
The play tells the story of the eponymous French peasant who returns to his family in 1551 after nine years fighting in the war. He seems a very changed man and, although his wife accepts him back, doubts about his true identity begin to emerge.
Hugh Panaro will assume the title role in Martin Guerre. Panaro recently starred in Broadway's Phantom of the Opera. Other Broadway credits include Side Show, Show Boat and Les Miz. Also starring are Erin Dilly as Bertrande and Stephen Buntrock as Arnaud du Thil. Buntrock, who spent time as Barrett on Titanic on Broadway, was on the brink of the national tour of Beauty and the Beast when he got the offer to appear in Guerre.
Dilly played Billie in the Encores! staging of Babes in Arms and she's currently in Off-Broadway's Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight.
Also in the cast of Martin Guerre are Jose Llana, Michael Arnold, John Leslie Wolfe, Kathy Taylor, Angela Lockett, Todd Alan Johnson, John Herrera and Alvin Crawford.
Conall Morrison directs. An associate director at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, Morrison has helmed Boucicault's The Colleen Bawn and Patrick Kavanaugh's Tarry Flynn at that theatre.
The main question remaining for the future Martin Guerre is which Broadway theatre it will fill. Talk in the Broadway community has producer Mackintosh closing one of his long-running shows -- such as Miss Saigon or Cats -- to make room for the new production. A spokesman for Martin Guerre, however, denied that scenario.
"No currently-running Mackintosh show will close to make way for Martin Guerre," the spokesman told Playbill On-Line. "We are looking for a new house."
Mackintosh recently announced he would shutter the London production of Miss Saigon on Oct. 30, after a ten-year run at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Three was a charm for Martin Guerre in November 1998, when the show opened at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in a co-production between the Leeds-based theatre and Mackintosh. The third and latest production of the phoenix-like musical featured a rewritten libretto and new songs from Boublil and Schonberg, whose writing partnership has produced two of the most successful musicals of all time, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon , both produced by Mackintosh.
Martin Guerre first opened in July 1996 at the West End's Prince Edward Theatre but received universally bad reviews. Mackintosh invested £4 million to re-package the show which re- opened in November 1996. That year, it won the Olivier Awards for Best Musical and Best Choreography, and it ran for over 700 performances.
Despite its eventual success, Boublil and Schonberg remained unsatisfied with the result, believing it had been rushed and was not faithful to the material. "They felt they never managed to get Martin Guerre right," said West Yorkshire Playhouse artistic director Jude Kelly, who the pair approached about a new production. "They couldn't proceed as artists until they got it right."
Mackintosh also commented: "We all felt that Martin Guerre had not found its final form, and I discovered Jude was of the same mind. She told me that she was totally supportive of giving the authors a chance to complete their vision."
For the new co-production, an impressive new creative team has been assembled. Martin Guerre is directed by Morrison, associate director at Dublin's Abbey Theatre, with musical staging and choreography by Abbey Theatre's David Bolger, design by John Napier (whose productions include Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Cats, Starlight Express and Sunset Boulevard), lighting by Howard Harrison and orchestrations by William David Brohn (whose recent productions include the RNT's Oklahoma! and the Broadway production of Ragtime for which he won a Tony Award).
The Yorkshire production earned vastly improved reviews. In response, Mackintosh has speedily proceeded with his usual program of world domination. Guerre productions are already scheduled for Denmark, Israel and Sydney.
-- By Robert Simonson