Masada Musical Is a Molehill; Pre-Bway Chicago Dates Canceled

News   Masada Musical Is a Molehill; Pre-Bway Chicago Dates Canceled Masada, the musical inspired by the Jewish history incident in which Jews committed suicide rather than submit to Romans, will not appear in Chicago in spring 2005.

The New York-aimed show was first announced to begin performances at Chicago's Ford Center for the Performing Arts in September 2004 and then dates were bumped to Feb. 20-March 27, 2005. A spokesman confirmed July 15 the show will not appear in the Windy City in spring 2005.

The Chicago engagement was billed as a tryout prior to Broadway. The premiere was canceled due to the lack of a New York theatre commitment and lack of financing.

A plan beyond spring 2005 has not been announced.

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As previously announced, British director Timothy Sheader, who helmed a recent workshop of Sweet Charity, was to direct the musical. David Parsons, who founded the Parsons Dance Company, was named choreographer. The remainder of the creative team comprised David Mitchell (scenic design), Ann Hould-Ward (costume design), Ken Billington (lighting design), Peter Fitzgerald (sound design) and Edward G. Robinson (musical supervision).

Masada features a score by Shuki Levy (music) and David Goldsmith (lyrics) and a book by Glenn Berenbeim. According to production notes, the musical is "set in World War II Warsaw [and] tells the story of a courageous group of actors, who, in defiance of their oppressors, perform a musical retelling of the legend of Masada."

Masada was the site of one of the most symbolic acts in Jewish history, where rebels committed suicide rather than subjecting themselves to capture by the Romans. About the musical, composer Levy told Variety, "It is Aida crossed with Norma crossed with West Side Story . . . .Some have thought it doesn't make any sense, this story about 900 Jews who killed themselves on a mountain 2,000 years ago, but once they heard the music, they felt it."

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Masada's producers were announced as Shuki Levy, Anita Mann of LevyMann Entertainment and veteran Broadway producer Barry Brown.

Masada debuted in Los Angeles at a charity benefit concert in 1998. That concert, which raised over $1 million for D.A.R.E., featured the talents of Jon Voight, Rita Moreno and Davis Gaines. No casting had been announced for the Chicago or Broadway plan.

Book writer Berenbeim was co-executive producer of CBS TV's "Touched By An Angel." He has also written for "A Different World" and the PBS series "Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn." Lyricist David Goldsmith wrote the lyrics for the touring musical Hot Shoe Shuffle as well as songs for such films as "Pepita," "Set It Off," "Thief of Always" and "A Christmas Carol." His play, Hotel Buzz, has been optioned by Rent producer Kevin McCollum.

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