The new revival of Finian's Rainbow, the whimsical, satiric 1947 musical by Yip Harburg and Burton Lane, will be read in New York City May 3, leading to what's billed as a pre-Broadway production at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, FL., Oct. 12-Nov. 21.
For the reading, which has had ongoing rehearsals, Lonny Price directs a company that was to include veteran Robert Morse (the original How to Succeed...) as Finian, but Morse has a scheduling conflict and will not appear May 3. Patrick Wilson (The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm) plays hero Woody and Austin Pendleton (Fiddler on the Roof) plays the racist politician.
The Fred Saidy libretto, which is considered well-meaning but, by today's standards, racially insensitive, is being reworked by Peter Stone, who recently tweaked the original libretto of Annie Get Your Gun (also thought to be racially insensitive).
A spokesperson at Price's agency told Playbill On-Line that after Coconut Grove, the production might hit one more regional stop prior to New York. Casting for Coconut Grove and beyond has not been announced, although performers in the private, industry reading are likely to be wooed.
Rodger Hess is the producer banking on the classic musical comedy score, which is a treasure chest of hits, including "How Are Things in Glocca Mora," "Old Devil Moon" (sung by leading-man Wilson), "Look to the Rainbow," "Necessity," "Something Sort of Grandish," "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love (I Love the Girl I'm Near)," "If This Isn't Love," "That Great Come-and-Get-It Day" and more. The show tells the unlikely story of an Irish leprechaun named Og who pursues Finian, who stole his magical crock o' gold, from Ireland to the mythical state of Missitucky. There, Finian, a suddenly-not-so-tiny leprechaun and Finian's daughter, Sharon, get involved in helping poor black sharecroppers fight a racist senator.
The show is noted for its socially-aware sentiments and for its freewheeling, playful lyrics by Harburg, a master of creating a new language for a fantastical world (as he did in "The Wizard of Oz.").
Stone said he discussed the project with Lane before the composer's Jan. 5, 1997 death.
Sometime actor Price's musical credits (as a director) include revivals of The Rothschilds and Juno and the "Encores!" concert revival of Pal Joey. He may be best known as an actor in the Broadway companies of Merrily We Roll Along and Rags
Finian's Rainbow originally opened on Broadway on Jan. 10, 1947 and ran for 725 performances. The cast included David Wayne, Ella Logan and Anita Alvarez. A 1968 film version, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starred Fred Astaire as Finian, Petula Clark as his daughter, Sharon, and Tommy Steele as Og, the leprechaun.