Molly Maguires Musical, Directed by Lonny Price, Will Be Taped for TV

News   Molly Maguires Musical, Directed by Lonny Price, Will Be Taped for TV The Molly Maguires, a once-Broadway-bound musical about Irish coal miners in Pennsylvania, has resurfaced again with Broadway director Lonny Price now attached, according to a casting notice. A western Pennsylvania engagement will be taped for broadcast.
Lonny Price
Lonny Price Photo by Aubrey Reuben

In 1999 the show by composer-lyricist Sid Cherry and librettist William Strzempek was developed in a five-week Manhattan workshop that producers Bill Haber and Kathleen Raitt ultimately didn't push forward to a Broadway run. Dan Foster was the director at the time.

In 2007 the show was presented in Wilkes-Barre, PA, with Ken Jennings, Leah Hocking and Ciaran Sheehan in the cast. Sheryl Kaller directed, and new producer Jim Burke was on board. John McDaniel was musical director.

Burke Productions is producing this new run, to play Scranton, PA, Aug. 27-29. The performances will be taped for public television. Musical director is Constantine Kitsopoulos. Casting is by Kate Boka.

New York City rehearsals will lead to the run at the Scranton Cultural Center.

The Molly Maguires, inspired by historical fact, is also the name of a 1970 Martin Ritt-directed film on the same topic (Sean Connery and Richard Harris starred). The musical tells of a secret society of immigrant Irish mine workers who fight against prejudice and injustice in the mining industry in 1877 Pennsylvania. Director Price is known for staging concerts of musicals (Camelot at Lincoln Center), Off-Broadway plays (Visiting Mr. Green) and Broadway shows (Master Harold…and the boys, Urban Cowboy, 110 in the Shade, A Class Act).

In 1999 Playbill.com reported that composer-lyricist Cherry had been developing the musical for nine years with book writer Strzempek.

Prior to the five-week Broadway workshop, The Molly Maguires had previous developmental professional stagings in Pennsylvania, where the material resonates because of the area's connection to coal mining and the past social injustice linked to it.

In the 1999 workshop, Irish step dancing, made popular by the stage show, Riverdance, was added to The Molly Maguires.

Ciaran Sheehan (Toronto's The Phantom of the Opera) played McKenna, the Pinkerton detective who infiltrates the Molly Maguires, the Irish coal-mining subculture violently protesting low wages and unsafe conditions in 1877 Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

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Begun in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop as early as 1990, the show has gone through many readings and workshops. Strzempek won the Ed Kleban Award for outstanding libretto for the project and Cherry was nominated for the BMI Jerry Bock Award for best score.

The project won a Richard Rodgers Development Grant which provided workshop money for an Off-Broadway staging. In October 1992 a full length version was presented in a series of staged readings at Playwrights Horizons.