The Broadway target-date is nearly two years away, but the new musical Morning Star has begun its journey, raising the capital necessary to take it to the workshop phase this summer.
Auditions for the show were held in San Diego in January for 25 roles (5 leads; 10 men, 10 woman ensemble) with rehearsals to begin May 2. Composer Terry E. Marler told Playbill On-Line (June 3) that two San Diego theatres are under consideration to host the workshop: the Concourse and the Convention Center (where Liddy Dole waded into the audience at the 1996 Republican National Convention Center). The formerly mentioned Spreckles venue is no longer under consideration.
Marler is hoping the 4-6 week workshop of Morning Star will begin at one of those theatres July 21 but figures the date might be pushed to August, with a 15-month North American tour to follow after Labor Day. The final stop, Broadway, is due Dec. 19, 1998.
"We've been doing concert versions of the show," said Marler. "We did an AIDS benefit in San Diego, and we've put together a library video of the show. Since our parent organization works with libraries with books on tape, they put together a three-hour video on constructing the musical, showing rehearsals and dance stuff. That should help us move the process along."
Currently cast in the show are five principals and an understudy: Bill Bailey (Harry), Charise Bunch (Celeste), Chris Reber, Jason Makiaris, Brian Caspe, Rachel Connolly (understudy). Twenty singers and dancers are still to be cast, with Equity auditions likely to happen in L.A. soon after July 4. Marler spoke most excitedly about the show's winter visit (Jan. 5-25, 1998) to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. They'll do a benefit to help reconstruct hurricane-damaged Frenchman's Reef. "They've added 98 rooms to their rebuilt resort," said Marler, "and called them `Morning Star Reef!'"
Based on a 1972 comedy by lyricist/librettist James M. Beasley, Morning Star has a simple, old-fashioned plot. Celeste, a former lady of the evening, gets to choose between three men -- Tom, Dick or Harry -- with whom to spend her twilight years. Tom is a naive young man, Dick a live-wire swinger, Harry an aging millionaire. Songs dotting Celeste's search include Tom's "Closer To Love," Dick's "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes," and Harry's "Run My Love."
"This is not the `Phantom Of Argentina,'" Marler joked, "it's a traditional American musical, related to Kern, Guys And Dolls, Pajama Game..."
James M. Beasley wrote, produced or appeared in more than 489 productions, from playing Prospero in The Tempest in 1939 to a role in 1996's Mr. Justice Goes To Washington. Marler had collaborated with Beasley for 26 years until the former's death in July 1996. Together they wrote the musicals, Beyond The Rainbow, Jacqueline, Nana, Saint Joan, Cleopatra, Josephine and their own Hunchback Of Notre Dame.
T.C.W. (Travel Council Of The World) is the main producer of the piece so far, which estimates its seed money at $250,000 and tour capitalization at $2,750,000.
Asked to describe the essence of Morning Star, Marler told Playbill On-Line (Jan. 1997), "I could get allegorical..you know, how Celeste represents Broadway and old New York, and the three suitors are trying to save her...but really it's just a simple, fun show with some really good music in it."
--By David Lefkowitz