Nemetz, Vichi and Ryall Expected to Join Tony Curtis for Some Like It Hot Tour

News   Nemetz, Vichi and Ryall Expected to Join Tony Curtis for Some Like It Hot Tour Actress Lenora Nemetz told The Pittsburgh Post Gazette she'll play band-leader Sweet Sue in the national tour of the musical, Some Like It Hot, a reworking of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill's Sugar, beginning this spring.

Actress Lenora Nemetz told The Pittsburgh Post Gazette she'll play band-leader Sweet Sue in the national tour of the musical, Some Like It Hot, a reworking of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill's Sugar, beginning this spring.

Tony Curtis, star of the original Billy Wilder film, headlines in the role of an aging millionaire (originally played by Joe E. Brown) who takes a shine to Joe, a musician disguised in drag. Casting for Jerry (the Jack Lemmon role), Joe (the original Curtis role) and the comely Sugar (the Marilyn Monroe role) have not been announced, although sources in the theatre community say Gerry Vichi (Annie Get Your Gun) is expected to play the band manager, Bienstock, and William Ryall (Seussical, Grand Hotel) is the mobster, Spats. No casting has been officially announced.

Nemetz is a veteran of Broadway's original Chicago, in which she stood by for both Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon.

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Jule Styne and Bob Merrill's 1972 Broadway musical comedy, Sugar, based on the classic Billy Wilder film, "Some Like It Hot," will get resurrected and made-over in the 2002-03 national tour. Curtis, of course, starred in the 1959 picture as one of two Windy City musicians (his pal was played by Lemmon) who witness a mob murder in 1929 and flee to Florida. They escape in women's clothing — finding refuge in all-girl jazz band in which a comely, blonde named Sugar is a member.

In the musical Some Like It Hot, Curtis will play millionaire Osgood Fielding III, a senior who is attracted to "Daphne," the Lemmon character. Meanwhile, "Josie," the original Curtis role, gets sweet on Sugar and disguises himself as a millionaire.

Director-choreographer Dan Siretta helms the new version, which will boast a revised libretto by the project's original book writer, Peter Stone. Some songs that were cut (including "The People in Your Life") in 1972 are being re-added and Curtis is getting the gift of a popular Styne number that's well-known and not previously associated with the show (it's been reported as "I Fall in Love Too Easily," heard in the film, "Anchors Aweigh").

Styne and Merrill wrote 75 songs for Sugar (they had previously collaborated on the hit, Funny Girl and the flop, Prettybelle) and Gower Champion directed and choreographed. Hopes were high in 1972 that Sugar might be a smash in the tradition Champion's Hello, Dolly! or Funny Girl. Robert Morse, Tony Roberts, Cyril Ritchard (in the role Curtis will soon play) and Elaine Joyce were the original stars. David Merrick produced. Morse and Roberts brought the house down nightly when they donned bosomy dresses to sing "The Beauty That Drives Men Mad." The show ran 505 performances, and had a score that was considered potent only in pockets and a troubled second act. Siretta and Stone plan to fix that, and to improve upon a London revival from 1992 that starred Tommy Steele (the late Merrill was not happy with the London version, Siretta said). Rights to the title, Some Like It Hot, were granted to that London staging 10 years ago and to this planned all-new staging produced by Masters and Jeffrey Spolan. The powerful Merrick was not able to snag the title rights from MGM, which may be one reason the show isn't better known. Masters said nobody knows what a show called Sugar is about.

The 50-city national tour begins in June presented by Theatre Under the Stars at Houston's new Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The hope is that the tour will end up on Broadway, Masters previously told Playbill On-Line.

The 1972 score includes "Doing It for Sugar," "Beautiful Through and Through," "Hey, Why Not!," "We Could Be Close" (a duet for Daphne and Sugar that also brought down the house in 1972-73), "What Do You Give to the Man Who's Had Everything?," "Penniless Bums" and "Sun on My Face," among others.

Siretta says the orchestrations by Philip Lang remain a dream and "the nature of Styne's melodic line is masculine, it's powerful, it moves forward." Styne died in 1994, Merrill in 1998. Siretta said his goal as director-choreographer is to streamline the storytelling and make sure it has the comic pace and flow of the film.

"I'm trying to hold onto something that's impeccable about the film — the rhythm," Siretta said, adding that he's taking a cue from the late Merrill. "Bob liked to move things faster — to say it and move it along and get out of there."

Both the 1992 London revival cast and the original Broadway cast are preserved on cast albums.

— By Kenneth Jones