The new John Kander-Fred Ebb musical, Over & Over, will face critics for the first time Feb. 3 at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.
The new musical version of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth has been going through rewrites and refinements at the 136-seat professional since it began performances Jan. 6. On Feb. 3 critics from the Washington Post, USA Today, the Associated Press and other news organizations were expected to assess the aborning show. The show was frozen Jan. 29, Signature managing director Paul Gamble told Playbill On Line. No official opening night was identified, owing to the in-process nature of the show, Gamble said.
Directed by Signature artistic director Eric D. Schaeffer, the tuner has some big names attached to it: Dorothy Loudon as Lulu Shriner (and others), choreographer Bob Avian (A Chorus Line), book writer Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof) and, of course, songwriters Kander and Ebb, who penned Cabaret, Chicago, Zorba, Kiss of the Spider Woman and more.
Standing by to gauge reaction to the project is Broadway producer David Stone. It is not yet clear if or how soon Stone may wish to send the project to New York City, where the current musical season has seen only Footloose, Parade, Swan Lake and Fosse open since September. The musicals Band in Berlin and The Civil War will open on Broadway in the coming months. Parade will close Feb. 28.
* Despite the small venue, the staging is a kind of Broadway tryout, even if Gamble said he and his nonprofit company are focused only on the Arlington staging. He said commercial producers do not have money in the sold-out Signature run.
A cautious Stone, deferring to the nonprofit's work, told Playbill On-Line (Jan. 5), "I don't want to comment on [a Broadway future]. It's a Signature Theatre production right now."
Stone's producing work includes Full Gallop, The Diary of Anne Frank, Santaland Diaries and other productions.
In Over & Over, Sherie Scott, a rising actress who recently played Amneris in Disney's tryout of Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida, has the plum role of Sabina, maid to the Antrobus household in the absurdism-flecked story. Scott replaced Bebe Neuwirth in rehearsals Dec. 21, 1998, just two weeks before the Jan. 6 first show of the sold out run (to Feb. 21). "Artistic differences" between director Schaeffer and Neuwirth (Chicago) were cited.
Sabina is the maid and narrator in the musical's Pulitzer Prize-winning source material. In Wilder's allegory for human resilience, the Antrobus family survives disasters and dramatic changes of Biblical proportions.
Also in the company are Linda Emond (Mrs. Antrobus), David Garrison (Mr. Antrobus), Megan Lawrence (Gladys), Jim Newman (Henry), Mario Cantone (Bob), Sharon Wilkins (Fortune Teller), Lawrence Redmond (Socrates), Hugh Nees (Homer), Thomas Adrian Simpson (Moses), Bruce Nelson (Jesus), Richard Pelzman (Mammoth), Karl Christian, Kenneth J. Ewing Jr., Daniel Felton, Jason Gilbert, Marc Oka, R. Scott Thompson, Johanna Gerry, Erika Lynn Rupli, Jennifer Swiderski.
Scott, a "quick study," according to Schaeffer, has appeared on Broadway as Maureen in Rent, Sally Simpson in The Who's Tommy and Marty in Grease. She was also Martha in Randy Newman's Faust at the La Jolla Playhouse and the Goodman Theatre.
Loudon might be best known as the original Miss Hannigan in Annie. Schaeffer directed her in the concert version of Jerome Kern's Sweet Adeline for Encores! in New York City.
Designers are Howell Binkley (lights), Lou Stancari (sets), Anne Kennedy (costumes), David Maddox (sound). Orchestrations are by Michael Gibson, musical direction is by Patrick Vaccariello, the conductor is Jim Laev.
Over & Over had a reading in spring 1998 in New York City under Schaeffer's direction, with Michele Pawk as Sabina. Bernadette Peters played Sabina in an earlier reading, not associated with Signature.
The Signature (established in 1989) previously presented Cabaret and a revised version of Kander and Ebb's The Rink, among many other shows, including new plays (such as fall 1998's Nijinsky's Last Dance) and revivals of Stephen Sondheim musicals (a lauded Passion, among others).
The original run of Over & Over was to be Jan. 6-Feb. 14, but a one- week extension to Feb. 21 was announced. The 1,000 or so available tickets sold out within 15 minutes of being on sale, according to Gamble. Any available tickets -- unused or returned -- will be available one hour prior to curtain at the box office.
Signature Theatre is at 3806 S. Four Mile Run Drive in Arlington. For upcoming show information, call Pro Tix at (703) 218-6500 or (800) 955 5566.
* The songlist for the show as of Feb 3 included:
"Eat the Ice Cream" Sabina
"Sabina!" Mrs. Antrobus
"He Always Comes Home to Me" Mrs. Antrobus
"Telegram No. 1" Telegram Boy
"We're Home" Gladys & Henry
"The Wheel" Mr. Antrobus
"Someday, Pasadena" Sabina & Men
"A Whole Lotta Lovin' " Wisemen
"Abou Ben Adhem" Gladys
"The Library" Mrs. Antrobus
"Rain" Fortune Teller
"As You Are" Mrs. Antrobus, Mrs. Antrobus
"Beauty Contest" Bathing Beauties
"This Life" Elsa Fitt & The Bathing Beauties
"You Owe It to Yourself" Sabina
"Nice People" Henry
"The Promise" Mrs. Antrobus
"The Promise (Reprise)" Mr.Antrobus
"Rain (Reprise)" Fortune Teller
"Military Man" Lulu Shriner, Bob Corleone & Soldiers
"Lullaby" Gladys & Mrs. Antrobus
"Telegram No. 2" Telegram Boy
"Home" Mrs. Antrobus & Sabina
"Nice People (Reprise)" Henry
"The Skin of Our Teeth" Mr. Antrobus
"Antrobus Waltz" Mr. Antrobus & Mrs. Antrobus
"At the Rialto" Sabina
-- By Kenneth Jones