La Jolla artistic director Des McAnuff (Dracula, 700 Sundays) stages the new show at his California company's Mandell Weiss Theater. The work began May 31 for a run through July 10.
David Gursky (the forthcoming Heartbreakers) composed the music for Palm Beach which features a book by Robert Cary ("Anything But Love") and Benjamin Feldman (Danny and Faye) with lyrics by Cary. The subtitle The Screwball Musical has been added to the show.
Matt Cavenaugh (Urban Cowboy, "One Life to Live"), Anastasia Barzee (White Christmas, Urinetown) and Noah Racey (Never Gonna Dance, Where's Charley?) will lead a cast that also features John Alban Coughlan (Beauty and the Beast national tour), Ryan Hilliard (Godspell), Chris Hoch (Dracula, the Musical), Heather Lee (Gypsy), Erica Piccininni (Peter Pan and Wendy), Clarke Thorell (Hairspray, Titanic) and Amanda Watkins (Urinetown). Taryn Darr (Yankee Doodle Dandy!), Jay Douglas (The Full Monty), Jennifer Evans (Where's Charley?) complete the ensemble of the new work.
Palm Beach, as Cary previously told Playbill.com, "is a show that really celebrates and explores all of the screwball comedies from the mid-30's to the mid 40's in Hollywood. In a way, it kind of does for screwball comedies what City of Angels did for film noir, except we add a few contemporary twists."
The musical — which was presented in a condensed version at the annual National Alliance for Musical Theatre showcase in 2001 — follows "a showgirl who infiltrates a Palm Beach family passing herself off as an orphaned heiress. [She then] finds out that there's a lot of insanity in the family that she didn't count on as she tries to wed herself into this family's fortune." Cary promises "A lot of mistaken identity, farce and music." The Palm Beach creative team includes Debbie Rosche (choreographer), Eric Stern (music director) and Sam Davis (dance arranger) and designers Klara Zieglerova (scenic), Paul Tazewell (costume), Howell Binkley (lighting) and Andrew Keister (sound). Frank Hartenstein serves as production stage manager.
Cary is the director, choreographer and co-writer of the film "Anything But Love" which starred Andrew McCarthy, Isabel Rose and Eartha Kitt. He is also currently working with Berry Gordy, Jr. on a musical that would use the Motown catalog. As a performer, he appeared in Carousel and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told then danced with the Joffrey II ballet company. He also served as assistant director on The Rainmaker on Broadway and The Waverly Gallery Off-Broadway.
His collaborators are librettist Benjamin Feldman and composer David Gursky. Feldman penned the play Danny and Faye which starred Tovah Feldshuh. He is also an entertainment lawyer of theatre and independent film, who has represented Urinetown and "Kissing Jessica Stein." Gursky served as a conductor on Broadway for Jane Eyre and Dame Edna, as well as the national tours of The Producers, The Phantom of the Opera and Big. His orchestrations and arrangements have been performed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, at Stephen Sondheim's 70th Birthday Concert and at Broadway's Easter Bonnet Competitions.
The former Yale college buddies are also at work on the upcoming musical version of the 2001 movie "Heartbreakers." "We seem to write shows that take place in Palm Beach," noted Cary about the team's other work which is part of the MGM On Stage program.
Tickets to Palm Beach, The Screwball Musical at The Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive in La Jolla, CA are on sale April 24 through (858) 550-1010 or online at www.lajollaplayhouse.com.