Musicals Tonight! Takes a Chance on Cabin in the Sky

News   Musicals Tonight! Takes a Chance on Cabin in the Sky Cabin in the Sky, the next lesser-known musical to be presented in modest concert form by the downtown Musicals Tonight! company, begins its run Oct. 21. It will play until Nov. 9.

The troupe of the script-in-hand concert includes Leslee Warren (as Petunia), Tyrone Grant (Little Joe), Glenn Townsend (Lord's General), Joe Wilson (Devil's Son) and Thursday Farrar (Sweet Georgia Brown). The cast also includes Brian Dickerson, Toni Trucks, Zakiya Young, Tanya Tatum, Romelda Benjamin, Joy Harrell (as the God-fearing friends of Petunia) and Derrick Cobey, DeMond Nason, Richie McCall, Toni Trucks and Brian Thomas Williams (as those working for the devil).

Vernon Duke penned the music, Lynn Root the libretto and John Latouche the lyrics (Ted Fetter has co-credit on the lyrics of "Taking a Chance on Love"). The show, a musical fable "about a tug of war between good and evil in the South," spawned the hit song, "Taking a Chance on Love."

Little Joe has been killed in a knife fight, leaving wife Petunia alone to pray for her husband's placement in heaven. A reprieve is granted by God: If Joe mends his ways, he will get into heaven.

The 1940 Broadway musical starred Ethel Waters. George Balanchine was choreographer and director. Katherine Dunham made her Broadway debut with the show. Todd Duncan, Rex Ingram and Dooley Wilson also starred. The 1943 film featured Waters and a young Lena Horne. Songs in the score include "Honey in a Honeycomb," "Cabin in the Sky," "My Old Virginia Home on the River Nile" and "Love Turned the Light Out."

Three special songs will be heard in the piano-and-voice Cabin in the Sky: "Living It Up," with words and music by Duke, heard in the 1964 Off-Broadway revival; "We'll Live All Over Again" (cut from the 1940 show); and "Not a Care in the World," from Duke's Banjo Eyes. Thomas Mills directs. Barbara Anselmi is music director.

Tickets are $19. Performances play the Mainstage of the Sol Goldman 14th Street YMHA, 344 E. 14th Street between First and Second Avenue. For information, call (212) 868-4444.

Mel Miller is artistic director of Musicals Tonight!, which operates on a shoestring budget.

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