Richard Muenz, Laura Benanti and David Aaron Baker will join Donna Murphy in the May 4-7 Encores! production of Wonderful Town. Also in the show, to be directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, will be Lewis J. Stadlen (Mizlansky/Zilinsky), Gregory Jbara (Victor/Victoria), Becky Ann Baker (Titanic), Alix Korey (The Wild Party), Raymond Jaramillo McLeod, Stephen DeRosa (Do Re Mi), Patrick Quinn, Ray Wills, Jenny Hill and Steve Ryan (Guys and Dolls).
It will be a reunion of sorts for Murphy and Muenz: they both sang on "Bernstein's New York," a CD which features several selections from the Leonard Bernstein-Betty Comden-Adolph Green musical. Muenz's Broadway credits include The Most Happy Fella, Camelot and another production of Wonderful Town, in which he played Bob.
Marshall is the artistic director of the Encores! Series. Her handiwork has been seen this season in Stephen Sondheim's Saturday Night and the revival of Kiss Me, Kate. David Ives, who has found a second career adapted old musical books for Encores!, does so again with Town. Wonderful Town brings characters from My Sister Eileen back to life. The parade of Greenwich Village life in the 1930s includes such songs as "Conga!," "Ohio," "Christopher Street," "My Darlin' Eileen," "A Quiet Girl," "What a Waste" and "Wrong Note Rag." Rosalind Russell starred as big sister Ruth in both the original and in a TV version. Both versions are on CD, as are others: A London revival, a studio-cast recording of the entire score (on the Jay label) and yet another recent studio-cast recording conducted by Simon Rattle (on the EMI Classics label), with Audra McDonald as little sister Eileen.
The score is famous for being written in only a few months, in order to fit star Russell's schedule.
The popular Encores! series presents seldom-seen musicals in concert versions, often featuring well known stage stars. Among the actors featured last season were Nathan Lane, Peter Scolari, Mary Testa, Karen Ziemba, Ruthie Henshall and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
The current Broadway revival of Chicago began as an Encores! concert. The series also begat a number of concert cast recordings, including Out of This World, Pal Joey, St. Louis Woman and Call Me Madam.