The Rhythm Club, the new Broadway-bound musical about German youth celebrating American swing culture in the face of the Nazi regime, will play the Ford Center Oriental Theatre in Chicago Dec. 9-Jan. 7, 2001, following an August 2000 debut at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.
The Signature staging, helmed by artistic director Eric Schaeffer, plays Aug. 29-Oct. 15. A Broadway opening in February 2001 is expected.
Allan and Beth Williams produce the new tuner by award winners Chad Beguelin (book and lyrics) and Matthew Sklar (music). Sklar, 26, and Beguelin, 30, are Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award winners for the project and Beguelin has also won an Edward Kleban Award.
Jeremy Kushnier (Footloose), Florence Lacey (Evita, Hello, Dolly!) and Barbara Walsh (Falsettos) have been mentioned for the cast, but there has been no official announcement about the company. The cast is expected to number about 22.
[Theatrical Index reports (June 19) that featured roles will go to Megan Lawrence, Jonathan Hogan (As Is), Kevin Kern, Kirk McDonald, Larry Cahn, Buzz Mauro and Marsh Hanson, as well as Walsh and Lacey. The show's production spokesperson at The Publicity Office is out of town until Wednesday and could not be reached for confirmation.] Jodi Moccia will choreograph. Designers are Derek McLane (set), Natasha Katz (lighting), Gregg Barnes (costumes) and Tony Meola (sound). Don Sebesky handles orchestrations.
The Rhythm Club used to be called Swing Alley and was hoped-for in the 1999-2000 Signature season. Scheduling issues with Schaeffer (Putting It Together and the aborning Witches of Eastwick in London) prevented its January 2000 premiere.
Beguelin and Sklar set their show in Hamburg, Germany, in 1938. Two musicians, one Christian and one Jewish, fight for their right to express themselves in time when Nazis where cracking down on Jews, artists and others. The boys hire a female singer for their band in the hope for a ticket to New York and away from fascist oppression.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and David Lefkowitz