NYC's Jewish Rep Unearths Bob Merrill Musical, Prince of Grand Street, for Concert

News   NYC's Jewish Rep Unearths Bob Merrill Musical, Prince of Grand Street, for Concert The Jewish Repertory Theatre in New York City will stage a concert version of Bob Merrill's last Broadway-bound musical, The Prince of Grand Street May 29-June 2, as part of its spring musicals-in-concert season.

The troupe, which has not produced a full production in many months, has recently focused on lean concert versions of Jewish-themed musicals. Pins and Needles, the Depression-era Harold Rome musical revue about love and labor woes in the garment industry will be staged in concert March 27-31 (as previously reported by Playbill On-Line). Karen Mason and Jim Walton will headline that show, with cast members including David Brummel, Louisa Flaningam, Allie Laurie, Tia Speros and Linda Romoff. The concert will be directed and staged by Gary John La Rosa, with musical direction by Nathan Hurwitz.

The Prince of Grand Street represents a New York premiere of a show by the late lyricist-composer who wrote songs for Carnival, New Girl in Town, Take Me Along and (with Jule Styne) Funny Girl and Sugar. Merrill also ghost-wrote for Hello, Dolly!

The Prince of Grand Street closed in 1978 in its Philadelphia tryout and starred Robert Preston in a role modeled on Yiddish theatre stars such as Jacob Adler and Boris Thomashefsky.

"The show centers on a Boris Thomashefsky-like Yiddish actor who has a penchant for playing young leading roles despite his older age and soon falls in love with his much younger leading lady," according to JRT production notes.

JRT's production will be adapted and directed by Walter Willison (remembered as an actor in Two by Two on Broadway) with a cast to be announced shortly. Fred Barton will be musical director. Merrill, whose most famous song may be "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?," penned the book, music and lyrics for The Prince of Grand Street. Merrill took his own life in 1998. His best work is considered to be the wistful Carnival, which has been discussed for a Broadway revival in recent seasons.

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Pins and Needles and The Prince of Grand Street are part of The Jewish Repertory Theatre's season of "musicals in concert," representing lost or overlooked Jewish-themed works. Previously seen this season were Minnie's Boys, about the Marx Brothers, and Jerry Herman's The Grand Tour. JRT, which is currently in its 29th year, is under the artistic direction of Ran Avni and associate artistic director Warren Hoffman. It is "committed to producing theater that details the Jewish experience in America in the English language."

JRT's production of Pins and Needles in concert, starring Karen Mason and Jim Walton, runs four performances March 27-31 at the Center for Jewish History located at 15 W. 16th Street. Showtimes are 8 PM March 27, 3 & 7 PM March 30 and 2 PM March 31.

The Prince of Grand Street in concert will play four performances May 29-June 2 at the Center for Jewish History. Showtimes are 8 PM May 29, 3 and 7 PM June 1and 2 PM June 2.

Tickets are $35 and can be ordered by calling (917) 606 8200 or by visiting JRT's website at www.jrt.org.