Newcomers Matt Cavanaugh and Caroline McMahon will play the leads of Bud and Sissy in Urban Cowboy when the new musical production of the 1980 film has its premiere at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Nov. 5-Dec. 1.
The staging will open the not-for-profit Coconut Grove season in Miami, and is billed as prior-to-Broadway. The picture starred Debra Winger and John Travolta. Chase Mishkin and Leonard Soloway are the attached commercial producers.
McMahon starred in a 2001 workshop of the show. The much sought-after Raul Esparza played Bud at that time. Mishkin told Playbill On-Line that Esparza is an excellent actor but was miscast in the part. Cavanaugh, who is 21 years old, was discovered working on the road, Mishkin said.
Aaron Latham (the original screenwriter) and Phillip Oesterman penned the new show about a honky-tonk bar, a mechanical bull, and male ego. Oesterman will direct.
"The story takes place in Gilley's bar, the evening watering hole of the newly prosperous rig workers during the oil boom of the '70s," according to the Coconut Grove announcement. "It's a place rife with lots of laughs, personal drama and sexual tension — and as the song depicts — it's the place where everyone goes 'Lookin' For Love.'" Songs in the show include "Could I Have This Dance," "Orange Blossom Express" and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." The original soundtrack went triple platinum.
Melinda Roy and Robert Royston are choreographing. Theatrical Index reports that the show will have a five-piece band on stage.
The new musical received a workshop Dec. 6-7, 2001, at downtown's Manhattan's Westbeth Theatre Center and had long been eyeing a March 2002 Broadway berth. Producers Soloway and Mishkin apparently hoped to start rehearsals on or around Feb. 15. The New York Post had reported that the Ambassador Theatre was to house the $4.5 million tuner, but the Pulitzer winner Topdog/Underdog settled there instead.
As previously reported, the Cowboy workshop also featured Sandy Duncan (Peter Pan), playing Aunt Corene opposite Reathel Bean's Uncle Bob, Tom Zemon as the villainous Wes (the Scott Glenn part) and Smokey Joe's Cafe alum B.J. Crosby as Jesse. The latter, owner of the honky tonk club Gilly's is a new character created expressly for the musical, according to director and co-author Philip Oesterman.
Back in December 1998, before he became Broadway's Tony Manero, James Carpinello participated in a reading of Urban Cowboy. It had another reading at Lincoln Center in early 2000, with Footloose's Jeremy Kushnier playing Bud and Natasha Diaz playing Sissy. That summer, another workshop was held in Gloucester, MA, with David Elder (42nd Street's Billy Lawler) as Bud and Angela Pupelo as Sissy.