Move Over, Da Vinci Code, Mona Lisa Has a Song in Her Heart in La Gioconda

News   Move Over, Da Vinci Code, Mona Lisa Has a Song in Her Heart in La Gioconda No, it's not a musical version of "The Da Vinci Code," but La Gioconda, bowing in an Off-Broadway showcase production June 1, does have Broadway stars playing Mona Lisa and Leonardo Da Vinci.

Megan McGinnis (Beauty and the Beast, Little Women) and Lewis Cleale (Swingin' on a Star, Once Upon a Mattress) will play Mona Lisa and Leonardo in the new romantic musical about "the curious relationship between Leonardo and his most famous subject, Mona Lisa."

Michael Unger, known for staging the pre-Broadway run of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, directs the 10-performance run (June 1-11) at the Harold Clurman Theatre in the Theatre Row complex on West 42nd Street.

Donya Lane is the composer and Ed McNamee is lyricist. Lane, McNamee and Unger co-wrote the book.

With the recent release of the film version of the best-selling novel, "The Da Vinci Code", the musical, conceived in 1999, premieres at a time when it should be ripe for the plucking by producers — if the work makes producers smile wider than the lady in the portrait did.

"Set in Renaissance Florence 1503, La Gioconda boasts a lush score, comic characters and an historically intriguing book, which also uncovers links and relationships that entwine other historical figures such as Niccolo Machiavelli and Mantua's great art patron, Isabella D'Este, into a web of jealousy, envy and ego that drive the unlikely (yet true) story to its conclusion," according to the creators. The authors point out "that while 'The Da Vinci Code' will only show audiences where the Mona Lisa is, La Gioconda will now for all-time portray for audiences who she is."

And who was the Mona Lisa? "In recent years Italian scholars, researching city archives, have uncovered new research that shows beyond any doubt that she was a real person," according to production notes. "Her name was Lisa Gioconda. And though her husband commissioned what was to be a simple wedding portrait, Leonardo Da Vinci never yielded it to him. Instead, he continued to work on it for over 12 years, building it up layer upon layer, carrying it with him everywhere until the day he died — obsessed! Why? Who is She? What did she mean to Leonardo? La Gioconda answers these questions and many more."

The company also includes Scott Barnhardt, Randy Blair, Nick Cearley, Mark Chmiel, Michael Herwitz, Kristin Knutson, Brian E. Long, Darren Matthias, Mark Peters, Rebecca Robbins, Logan Tracey & Dana Zihlman.

For more information, visit www.lagioconda.com.

The showcaase production is being produced by Manhattan Theatre Source.

The Clurman is at Theatre Row, 201 W. 42nd Street near Ninth Avenue. Tickets are $18. For information, call (212) 279-4200 or visit www.TicketCentral.com.

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