The company of the new musical, Sweet Smell of Success, is working up a sweat in Manhattan rehearsal studios in anticipation of its Chicago tryout Dec. 23-Jan. 27, prior to a spring 2002 opening at Broadway's Martin Beck Theatre.
Under the direction of Nicholas Hytner (Miss Saigon), and stepping to the choreography of New York City Ballet's Christopher Wheeldon, the company is led by John Lithgow as powerful newspaper columnist J.J. Hunsecker and Brian d'Arcy James as sycophantic press agent Sidney Falco, indelible urban-American characters from the 1957 film of the same name. The book is by John Guare (drawing on the novella by Ernest Lehman and the screenplay by Lehman and Clifford Odets), music is by Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line) and lyrics are by Craig Carnelia (Is There Life After High School?).
The entire cast has been announced. Singing and dancing their way through a dark and jazzy Manhattan world of the 1950s will be Kelli O'Hara (as J.J.'s sister, Susan), Jack Noseworthy (as musician Dallas, Susan's squeeze) and Stacey Logan (as cigarette girl Rita O'Rourke), with Mark Arvin, David Brummel, Jamie Chandler-Torns, Kate Coffman-Logan, Bernard Dotson, Allen Fitzpatrick, Jennie Ford, Lisa Gajda, Eric Michael Gillett, Laura Griffith, Joanna Glushak, Roy Harcourt, Michelle Kittrell, Jill Nicklaus, Steve Ochoa, Michael Paternostro, Eric Sciotto, Elena L. Shaddow, Drew Taylor and Frank Vlastnik.
The Chicago engagement will play the Shubert, opening there Jan. 13, 2002, after previews, prior to a Broadway bow at the Martin Beck. First Broadway preview will be Feb. 23, 2002. Opening is March 14, 2002.
Designers are Bob Crowley (set and costumes), Natasha Katz (lighting) and Tony Meola (sound). Orchestrations are by William David Brohn. Musical direction is by Jeffrey Huard. Producers are Clear Channel Entertainment, David Brown, Ernest Lehman, Marty Bell, Martin Richards, Roy Furman, Joan Cullman, Bob Boyett, East of Doheny and Bob and Harvey Weinstein.
The original motion picture of Sweet Smell of Success was directed by Alexander Mackendrick and also starred Marty Milner, Sam Levene, Barbara Nichols, Susan Harrison, Joe Frisco and the Chico Hamilton Quintet. Lehman, once a New York press agent (and later a successful screenwriter) based the character of Hunsecker on all-powerful New York Mirror columnist Walter Winchell. The story, in which Hunsecker sends Falco to bust up his sister's romance with musician Dallas, draws on real life events in which Winchell hounded his daughter Walda's boyfriend until they broke up, he eventually left the country and Walda was committed to a sanitarium.
The film was a flop upon release, but grew in stature over the years and is now considered one of the best films about New York City ever made.
The summer 2000 workshop of the musical featured Joanna Glushak, Frank Vlastnik, Cleve Asbury, Michael McCormick, Bernard Dotson, Julio Augustin, Rachelle Rak, Kate Coffman, Mark Zimmerman, Colleen Hawks, Jamie Chandler-Toms, Roy Harcourt, Eric Michael Gillet, J.C. Montgomery, Shannon Lewis and Tobi Foster.