The Andrew Gerle-Eddie Sugarman musical had an earlier test in November 2006 in a production by Goodspeed Musicals at the Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut. That staging was not open to critics, and some changes were made to the cast and creative team between engagements.
Directed by Eric Schaeffer, Meet John Doe plays to April 29 at Ford's, the historic theatre where programming (by producing organization Ford's Theatre Society) focuses on the variety of the American experience.
Meet John Doe features music by Andrew Gerle, lyrics by Eddie Sugarman, a book by Gerle and Sugarman and additional story by Matt August.
The show is set during the Great Depression and focuses on a lady reporter who creates a character named John Doe (the scribe is desperate to save her job).
"The 'made up' John Doe's opinions and editorials resonate powerfully across the country leading his creator to hire a real man to literally embody the idea of this growing icon," according to production notes. "As powerful forces attempt to use Doe for their own political gain, our hero finds his voice by appealing to the best in human nature." The cast features [title of show] veteran Heidi Blickenstaff (as reporter Ann Mitchell), Virginia's Signature Theatre veteran James Moye (as the titular John Willoughby) and Joel Blum (as Colonel), as well as Guy Paul, Patrick Ryan Sullivan and Stephen Gregory Smith.
Moye's credits include The Full Monty and Urinetown on Broadway, and Orin on the national tour of Little Shop of Horrors. He was Helen Hayes Award- nominated for playing File in 110 in the Shade at Signature Theatre.
The ensemble comprises Christopher Bloch, Suzanne Briar, Michael Bunce, Evan Casey, Daniel Cohen, Danielle Eden, Eleasha Gamble, Channez McQuay, Amy McWilliams, Tracy Lynn Olivera and Thomas Adrian Simpson.
The creative team also includes Karma Camp (musical staging), Jamie Schmidt (music director), Derek McLane (set designer), Rui Rita (lighting designer), Alejo Vietti (costume designer), David Budries (sound designer), Cookie Jordan (wig and hair designer) and David Leong (fight director).
Orchestrations are by Jonathan Tunick.
In a statement Ford's Theatre producing director Paul Tetreault said, "Ford's is thrilled to produce this piece for Washington audiences. Although it takes place in another era, people will be moved by the musical's contemporary themes and its insight into our desire to find that authentic voice in the community, as America did in 1860 when it first elected Abraham Lincoln president. The message of one person's ability to make an impact on their community is just as powerful today as it was in the 1930's."
Ford's Theatre is located at 511 Tenth Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. For more information call (202) 347-4833 or visit www.fordstheatre.org.