The debut of Rupert Holmes' newest work, Remember WENN — The Musical, about a time when "radio was king and music had swing," is among the offerings of the 2002-2003 season at The Helen Hayes Theatre Company.
The upcoming year at the Hayes will also include classic musicals, a musical revue, a vintage Off-Broadway hit and a Tony Award-winning play about a tempestuous diva.
On March 22, Holmes' Remember WENN — The Musical, based on the characters created for his Emmy Award-winning television series, "Remember WENN." For his Broadway debut as a composer-lyricist-book writer (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Holmes nabbed 1986 Tonys for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score. He recently premiered another new (non-musical) work at the Helen Hayes, Thumbs, a thriller that starred former talk-show host Kathie Lee Gifford. Remember WENN — The Musical will begin previews on March 22, 2003, and will close April 6.
First up for the Nyack theatre company in 2002-2003 is Jerry Herman's Showtune, a new revue of songs by the award-winning composer of Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage aux Folles, Mack and Mabel and Dear World. Conceived by Paul Gilger with musical direction by James Followell, the musical revue will boast direction and choreography by Joey McKneely, who received Tony nominations for his work in Smokey Joe's Cafe and The Life. Jerry Herman's Showtune will begin previews on Oct. 12 and will run through Oct. 27.
In honor of the recent Richard Rodgers Centenary, the Helen Hayes will offer one of the most beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, The Sound of Music, which debuted on Broadway with Mary Martin and later made a star out of Julie Andrews, who played the role of Maria von Trapp on film. The family musical, which includes such tunes as "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and "Do-Re-Mi," will play the Helen Hayes Nov. 30-Dec. 22. Next up at the Hudson Valley theatre is Terrence McNally's Tony Award-winning play Master Class, which also earned a Tony for its original Broadway star, Zoe Caldwell. Those who followed Caldwell into the lead role included Patti LuPone and Dixie Carter. Inspired by a series of master classes that the legendary Maria Callas offered at Juilliard, the original Broadway mounting also featured Tony winner Audra McDonald. Master Class will run Feb. 22-March 9, 2003. There is no word yet as to who will play the fiery opera star.
The musical that launched the career of Bernadette Peters — Off Broadway's Dames at Sea — will play the Helen Hayes April 19-May 4, 2003. A spoof of Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell movies, Dames at Sea features such tunes as "Raining in My Heart," "That Mister Man of Mine" and "The Sailor of My Dreams." The song-and-dance musical is by Jim Wise, George Haimsohn and Robin Miller.
The Helen Hayes Theatre Company concludes its season with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Tony Award-winning musical Evita. The original mountings of the show made stars of both its London and New York Evas, Elaine Paige and Patti LuPone. With a score that includes such Lloyd Webber gems as "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Buenos Aires" and "Rainbow High," the musical will play June 7-June 22, 2003.
The Helen Hayes Theatre Company is located at 117 Main Street in Nyack, NY. Call (845) 358-6333 for information. For more information, go to www.hhtco.org.
— By Andrew Gans