Under the direction of director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell, the show by Tony Award winner David Zippel (lyricist and co-librettist), Joe Leonardo (co-librettist) and Jonathan Sheffer (composer) had a May reading in Manhattan. Tony Award-winning producer Hal Luftig (Movin' Out, Legally Blonde, Thoroughly Modern Millie) told Playbill.com July 8 that The Old Globe, known for nurturing pre-Broadway productions of The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, will stage the Broadway-aimed musical comedy in January 2010.
Mitchell (The Full Monty, Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, La Cage aux Folles) remains attached to the silent-era, Hollywood-set musical. No official announcement by The Old Globe has been made.
Luftig and The Old Globe produced a 29-hour reading of the show that culminated in the private industry presentation May 6 in Manhattan. John McDaniel (Taboo, Brooklyn, Annie Get Your Gun) was music director.
Going Hollywood is one of those projects that has developed glacially, and has been in the hands of various directors and producers over the past 20 years.
Brimming with showbiz madcaps in the movie business at the time when talkies were dawning, the musical had developmental readings and a 1983 workshop, but a full production never materialized. The now-hot Broadway director-choreographer Mitchell (a Tony winner for his La Cage aux Folles choreography) was in the chorus of the original Going Hollywood workshop in 1983. He always liked the material — and now he has the clout to help realize it. Mitchell helmed the May reading of the dusted-off, revised, restructured musical.
Christine Ebersole — who won her Tonys for Grey Gardens and the revival of 42nd Street — played the part of May, one of the show's love interests, in an early presentation of the project more than 20 years ago. In the recent reading she played a sexy character part — a gossip columnist.
The May 6 reading cast included Christian Borle (Legally Blonde) as George, Matthew Morrison (South Pacific) as Jerry, Leslie Kritzer (A Catered Affair) as May, Josephine Rose Roberts as Susan Walker, Richard Kind (Bounce, New York City Opera's Candide) as Glogauer, Julie Halston as Glogauer's secretary Miss Leighton, Todd Weeks as the neglected Broadway playwright Lawrence Vail, plus Paul Canaan, Marya Grandy, Luke Grooms, Rod Harrelson, Sandra Joseph, Kevin Pariseau, Terita Redd, Noah Weisberg, Cortney Wolfson.
Zippel penned lyrics for Broadway's City of Angels (Tony Award, Best Musical and Best Score, among others), The Goodbye Girl and The Woman in White. His many songwriting projects include lyrics for Disney's "Mulan" and "Hercules," and the new stage musicals Pamela's First Musical and Princesses.
Leonardo is a respected writer-director known for his work in Chicago and nationally.
Sheffer is a TV, film and theatre composer and busy classical conductor who founded the Eos Orchestra. His opera, Blood on the Dining Room Floor, received the Richard Rodgers Production Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was produced Off-Broadway in 2000. His first musical, Ladies in Waiting, written with Patricia Resnick ("9 to 5") and Alan Poul, was produced in Chicago in 1981.
Zippel previously told Playbill.com that the writers wanted to "create a musical that has the wink and charm and wit of Kaufman and Hart."
The original play by Kaufman and Hart focuses on three ex-vaudevillians (Jerry, May and George) who travel to Hollywood to give elocution lessons to silent-screen stars who are nervous about the impending changeover to talkies. There, they encounter out-of-work playwrights (one was played by Kaufman himself in 1930) who are hoping to make it big in pictures, and oversized Hollywood types, including a gossip columnist named Helen Hobart and a studio chief named Glogauer.
Luftig and Zippel said that Tony Award-winning director Jack O'Brien — former artistic director of The Old Globe, and Mitchell's collaborator on The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Hairspray — has been Going Hollywood's "guardian angel," and that Mitchell is the project's director and choreographer.
Zippel said the earlier script and score have been "restructured a bit" and that a song previously cut has been re-inserted. Expect a tuneful, bouyant book musical comedy with a mid-sized cast.
Mitchell was Tony-nominated for his choreography for Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Never Gonna Dance, The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. His Broadway choreography credits also include Imaginary Friends, The Rocky Horror Show, Gypsy (additional choreography 2003), and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Opening in September 1930, the play Once in a Lifetime ran 406 performances at Music Box. Grant Mills, Jean Dixon and Hugh O'Connell played Jerry, May and George, respectively. A 1978 Broadway revival played 85 performances at Circle in the Square, starring Treat Williams (Jerry), Deborah May (May) and John Lithgow (George).