The final performance of the final show of the Second Stage season— Once Around the City, a new musical by Willie (book and lyrics) and Robert (music) Reale — will be July 22. The production, directed by Mark Linn-Baker (who began a term as acting artistic director of the theatre beginning in January 2001) and choreographed by Jennifer Muller, began previews June 12 and opened July 10 to largely negative reviews.
City, set in the 1980's, is described as an antidote to the "greed decade." The central story pits a yuppie real estate agent against an advocate of the homeless. Romance, comedy, Reaganomics and a jazzy score are mixed into the show.
The brothers Reale have written six musicals together, including Quark Victory, which played at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 1999. That quirky tuner centered around a teenage girl named Samantha who takes an amazing journey into the nucleus of an atom. Karen Ziemba and Wilson Jermaine Heredia starred in the production.
Both brothers have spent much of their energies working on theatre projects geared toward younger audiences. Willie is the recipient of a 1994 MacArthur "Genius" grant, and founded and ran for 20 years the 52nd Street Project, which teams theatre artists with inner city children. Robert, meanwhile, writes music for theatre (A Year with Frog and Toad), television and film, and produces a CD here and there ("Mother Goose and More" with Julie Andrews).
The best known names in the cast are Geoffrey Nauffts (June Moon, Snakebit) and Joe Grifasi (Filumena). Also in the cast are Harry Althaus, Jane Bodle, John Bowman, Peter Jay Fernandez, Patrick Garner, Michael Magee, Michael Mandell, William Parry, Michael Potts, Sandra Shipley, Anna Stone, Anne Torsiglieri and Brandy Zarle. For ticket and subscription information call Second Stage Theatre at (212) 246-4422.
—By Robert Simonson