Off-Broadway's York Theatre Company is considering the New York premiere of Exactly Like You, the musical by Cy Coleman and A.E. Hotchner that recently completed a workshop production at Goodspeed Opera House's Norma Terris Theatre.
The musical, a reworking of some material from Coleman's 1988 flop Welcome To the Club, would mark the first-ever Off-Broadway premiere of a new musical from Coleman whose catalog includes Sweet Charity, Barnum, The Will Rogers Follies and The Life.
Spokespersons from both Coleman and the York confirmed the story, first reported by Army Archerd in his Variety column. Though Archerd reported the production as a done deal, the York spokesperson said only that it was under consideration. No dates, casting or production team have been announced.
The May 1998 Goodspeed production was directed and choreographed by Patricia Birch, who choreographed the original Grease, A Little Night Music and Pacific Overtures. Featured in the cast were Barbara Walsh ( Big and Falsettos) and Michael McGrath (Forbidden Broadway, Swinging on a Star and The Coconuts). Exactly Like You, which Coleman described as "a courtroom drama, but very funny," has lyrics by Coleman and A.E. Hotchner, his collaborator on the short-run 1988 musical Welcome to the Club, which dealt with another part of the legal system, an alimony jail. Coleman told Playbill On Line that the two musicals are closely related, dealing the many of the same issues, having some of the same characters (including country singer Winona Shook) and rescuing some of the earlier show's songs, including the ballad "At My Side."
Here's how Goodspeed described the plot:
On trial for locking his mother-in-law in the bathroom, Kevin Bursteter (Edward Staudenmayer) realizes the honeymoon is over when his wife, Eve (Katharine Leonard), testifies against him. Meanwhile Kevin's lawyer, Martin Murphy (Michael McGrath), tries to reconcile with his wife, Arlene (Barbara Walsh), who's prosecuting the case. And in the jury box, Aaron Bates (Robert Bartley) finds opposites attract after fellow juror Winona Shook, a bawdy country singer (Blair Ross), knocks him unconscious on the courthouse steps.
Also in the cast: Frank Gravis, Tony Hastings, Doug Katsaros, Donna Kelly, Donya Lan, Susan Mansur.
Hotchner, who has written books about Ernest Hemingway, Doris Day and Sophia Loren, is partners with Paul Newman in the "Newman's Own" line of food products whose proceeds go to charity. Hotchner and Newman launched a line of ice cream April 14.
Here is a list of the musical numbers, as of May 7. Spokesperson Jennifer Wislocki said May 26 that the book underwent substantial revision during the workshop, but the score has remained more or less intact:
"A Man of the People" - All
"The Trouble with You" - Arlene & Martin Murphy
"Southern Comfort" - Winona, Bates, Ensemble
"Thanks to Mum" - Eve, Ensemble
"Why Did You Have to Be a Lawyer" - Arlene & Martin Murphy
"I Get Tired" - Lamarr, Winona
"That's a Woman" - Bates
"Cottage by the Sea" - Kevin
"In the Name of Love" - Arlene & Martin Murphy
"I Forgive Him" - Priscilla
"Mother-in-law" - Ensemble
"Good Day, Good Day" - TV Commentator
"She Makes Me Laugh" - Bates
"Rio" - Kevin, Martin, Ensemble
"At My Side" - Kevin, Eve
"No Further Questions, Please" - Arlene
"You're Good for Me" - Judge, Priscilla
"Guilty" - Winona
"Ain't He Cute" - Arlene & Martin Murphy
"It Wouldn't Be You" - All
Coleman, whose The Life won two Tony Awards in 1997 and was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award, told Playbill On-Line that he's working on several projects simultaneously.
A Star Is Born, which began as an Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced London show, and also appeared for a time on the Livent Ltd. slate, is now being developed by Coleman with an independent producer. Lyrics for the show are being written by David Zippel, who did Coleman's Tony-winning City of Angels and the Disney film Hercules. As in all previous incarnations of the musical, Larry Gelbart (City of Angels, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) is writing the book. The musical is based on the oft-filmed story of a couple whose love is strained when one partner's career rises while the other one's falls.
But that's not all. Coleman is continuing to work with Barbara Fried and Bruce Villanch on 13 Days to Broadway, based on Russell Baker's diary of their musical Home Again, Home Again, which closed out of town. Coleman said, "It's about a show in trouble on the road, and what happens to the people involve. Everybody starts off loving each other, and winds up not speaking to each other. It's a very funny, bittersweet comedy, like a Marx Brothers movie."
-- By Robert Viagas