Limited tickets are still available for the presentations, helmed by the original director Susan H. Schulman (The Secret Garden, The Sound of Music).
As a way to introduce audiences to its $27 million new facility, Playwrights Horizons invited back creators of shows that were spawned at the not-for-profit. The musicals of the concert series this month — Falsettos, Violet and Floyd Collins — are presented in the company’s 198-seat mainstage theatre, with six performances each on three successive weekends (Falsettos kicked it off Jan. 9). Christopher Durang's play, Laughing Wild, will be seen in four performances on the company's more intimate 96-seat Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Jan. 30-Feb. 1.
Violet, by composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist-librettist Brian Crawley, is based on a short story by Doris Betts about a scarred girl who takes a bus across the South in 1964 to be healed by a preacher man. Those she meets along the way help change her life.The score is flecked with folk, country, gospel and R&B sounds. The score is preserved on a cast album.
The concert features members of the original cast, including Stephen Lee Anderson, Michael McElroy, Cass Morgan, Roz Ryan, Michael Parks and Lauren Ward (reprising her performance in the title role), as well as special guests Bill Buell, Norbert Leo Butz, Tracy Nicole Chapman, Luther Creek and Allison Fischer.
PH artistic director Tim Sanford noted that PH's tradition of musicals on its mainstage will be carried through when the theatre presents My Life With Albertine, by Richard Nelson and Ricky Ian Gordon, as its inaugural full production, beginning Feb. 18 toward a March 13 opening. Violet won the 1997 Richard Rodgers Award and was staged by Playwrights Horizons in spring. It was initially developed at the O'Neill Theater Center during the 1994 National Music Theatre Conference. Michael Rafter, the respected musical director who is also Tesori's husband, was the original run's music director and repeats his duties for the concert.
Violet had its faithful fans, but did not get the commercial New York run many had hoped for in 1997-98. It has subsequently found life in regional theatres. Tesori went on to be Tony Award-nominated for her score to Thoroughly Modern Millie and is currently working on a new musical, Caroline or Change, with Tony Kushner.
Coming up in January in the PH inaugural series:
Laughing Wild, the 1987 comedy written and directed by Christopher Durang, will feature original cast Durang and E. Katherine Kerr, Jan. 30-Feb. 1. The work premiered at PH's Studio Theater in October 1987 and plays the new Peter Sharp Theater. For more Playwrights Horizons information, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit http://www.playwrightshorizons.org.
The new PH HQ features two theatres (a 198-seat mainstage and a studio), a large main lobby, two rehearsal spaces, offices for artistic, production and administrative staff and the Ticket Central box office. It is at 416 W. 42nd Street on the site of the former complex.