Max Crumm (Disaster!, Grease) and Ann Morrison (Merrily We Roll Along) will head the cast of the previously announced world premiere of Beatsville: The Beatnik Musical, which will begin previews April 28 at Florida's Asolo Rep prior to an official opening May 6. Performances will continue through May 28 in the Mertz Theatre, located in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
A co-production with Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, Beatsville has a book by Glenn Slater (A Bronx Tale, School of Rock, Sister Act, The Little Mermaid) and music and lyrics by Wendy Wilf. The production will be helmed by Bill Berry, producing artistic director of the 5th Avenue.
Crumm will play the role of Walter with Morrison as Mrs. Zwicker, Walter's landlord, and Mrs. Greenberg, the mother of Walter's love interest, Carla. The cast also includes Cayman Ilika as Natasha, Charlie Johnson as Claude 1, Connor Russell as Claude 2, Sarah Rose Davis as Betty/Art Heiress, Billie Wildrick as Alice, Clifton Oliver as Thelonious/Policeman 2/Gallerista, Taryn Darr as Naolia/Euro Woman, Andrew Chappelle as Lou/Beat Cop/Policeman/Diego/Museum Curator, Brandon O’Neill as Brock, Michael Thomas Holmes as Leonard, Lauren Marcus as Carla, and Kevin Pariseau as Mr. Greenberg/Serious Man/Detective Burkle, with swings Scott Kuiper and Kelly Elizabeth Smith.
The new musical, according to Asolo, concerns “tragically square busboy Walter Paisley, [who] wants nothing more than to be one of the beatniks, but he has no artistic talent whatsoever. When he accidentally kills a cat and hides it in a lump of clay, ’Dead Cat’ is declared a masterpiece, and Walter a genius. More ’sculptures’ bring more acclaim – but will the world discover Walter’s secret?”
“Beatsville was born when Wendy Wilf, our composer/lyricist, smashed together her two great passions—bebop jazz and musical theatre—and found that they created a brand new musical language: fast, freewheeling, and perfect for conveying the twists and turns of a great story," said Slater in a statement. “It’s also a sound that instantly made us think of a specific time and place—the bohemian world of Greenwich Village in the late 1950s, when bongos and berets were all the rage and beatniks ruled the scene. We knew that we had stumbled upon something fresh and vibrant, something that has never really been seen onstage before, and that we had the seeds for an offbeat, quirky black comedy that could transport an audience to another world while also satirizing the self-involved hipsters of our own time.”
The creative team also includes orchestrator and vocal and dance music arranger Steve Orich, choreographer JoAnn M. Hunter, costume designer David C. Woolard, lighting designer Mike Baldassari, sound designer Justin Stasiw, musical director Kat Sherrell, hair/wig/makeup designer Michelle Hart, and Tony-winning scenic designer David Gallo.
For tickets, which start at $26, visit AsoloRep.org.