Pamela Hunt and Dr. Sex Go Their Separate Ways; Ethan McSweeny Joins Team

News   Pamela Hunt and Dr. Sex Go Their Separate Ways; Ethan McSweeny Joins Team Director Pamela Hunt and the producers of Dr. Sex — a show already in previews for its New York premiere — have parted ways due to creative differences.

Billed as "the cleanest show about sex in the history of musical comedy," the musical comedy about sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, his wife and his assistant, began an Off-Broadway run Aug. 26 at the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street.

Director Ethan McSweeny, who staged Broadway's Gore Vidal's The Best Man, has been working with the company and is being called a "friend of the production."

He "has joined the team to help out because of his affection for the project and its long-term potential," according to a statement. "Though Mr. McSweeny will receive no official credit for this production, he looks forward to being involved in its future."

It's not yet clear who will be billed as director.

A performance scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 13 has been canceled to allow the company to continue in rehearsals. Performances resume Sept. 14. Opening is scheduled for Sept. 20. In recent days, lighting designer Richard Winkler has replaced Mary Jo Dondlinger. The rest of the cast and creative team remain intact.

Pamela Hunt's credits include the popular Musical of Musicals — The Musical! Off-Broadway.

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Brian Noonan plays sexual behavior researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey and lauded comic actress Jennifer Simard is his devoted wife, Clara, in the New York premiere of the musical that first bowed in a separate 2003 staging by Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in Chicago.

The wide-eyed, somewhat devilish looks on the faces of actors in production photos suggest Dr. Sex isn't exactly a serious-minded exploration into the thoughts, motives and contradictions of the conflicted Dr. K, whose world was the subject of the 2004 film, "Kinsey."

The show is "fun, sweet, and outrageously screwball," according to the producers.

The limited engagement, to Oct. 30, plays the Peter Norton Space, 555 W. 42nd Street, usually the home of Signature Theatre Company.

Richard Ericson and Greg Young are presenting the musical by Larry Bortniker (lyricist, composer, co-librettist) and Sally Deering (co-librettist).

Choreography is by Mark Esposito.

Christopher Corts will play Wally, the Kinseys' boyfriend. Also featured in the cast are Jared Bradshaw, Linda Cameron, David Edwards, Christy Faber, Colleen Hawks and Benjie Randall.

Simard is a three-time Drama Desk nominee known for indelible turns in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, The Thing About Men and Forbidden Broadway. Noonan played both the Phantom and Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. In a tour of South Pacific (as Cable) he sang "Younger Than Springtime" to his wife Mayumi Miguel eight times a week. He recently starred in Stephen Cole and Claibe Richardson's Night of the Hunter (playing The Preacher) in California.

"Set in the 1930s and '40s in Bloomington, Indiana, Dr. Sex explores the loving relationship between Dr. Alfred Kinsey, his wife, Clara...and their handsome boyfriend (and lab assistant), Wally Matthews," according to the creators. "When Professor Kinsey, tired of cataloguing American gall wasps, discovers his life's work in human sexual research, Bloomington becomes a hotbed of science and sex. Fun, sweet and outrageously screwball, with toe-tapping music and memorable lyrics, Dr. Sex is the new musical comedy for anyone who's ever had (or thought about having) 'you-know-what.'"

Patrick Vaccariello (Cabaret, Boy From Oz, the upcoming revival of A Chorus Line) is musical supervisor.

Designers are Rob Bissinger (set), John Carver Sullivan (costumes).

Dr. Sex was developed at BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop; Stages 2002, Theater Building Chicago; and the ASCAP/Disney Workshop; it subsequently had its 2003 world premiere in a non-Equity production at Bailiwick, where it had a popular run.

Previews through Sept. 14 will be Tuesday through Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sunday at 3 PM and 7 PM. Beginning Sept. 15, performances will be Monday, Wednesday through Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 8 PM, Sunday at 3 PM and 7 PM.

Tickets for all performances will be $70 and may be purchased by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or online at www.TicketCentral.com. For more information, visit www.drsexthemusical.com.

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Composer-lyricist and co-book writer Bortniker first developed Dr. Sex at the BMI Lehman Engel Workshop, under the tutelage of Maury Yeston, and then workshopped it at the ASCAP at Disney Workshop in Los Angeles. Following a presentation of it at the Stages Festival in Chicago, the musical comedy had its debut at the Bailiwick Theatre in 2003. This production received seven Jeff Awards, including Best Musical and Best New Work, and an After Dark award for Best New Score.

Bortniker also wrote the score and book for Dora: Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, an adaptation of a Freudian case history, which was selected by the Dramatists Guild for its Musical Theater Development Award. His other musicals include Buck Simple (book by Craig Fols). His children's musical Animal of the Year (also written with Sally Deering) debuted on Theatre Row in New York and has had productions in Chicago and New York state.

Sally Deering (co-author of the book) began her theatre career as an actress, originating roles Off-Off Broadway in the 1980s. She spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter and columnist with her work syndicated on the Newhouse News Service. That’s when she began collaborating with Larry Bortniker on film scripts and writing her own plays. Her first, Chewing Mother's Bones, was given its world premiere at the Penguin Rep in Stony Point, NY. She recently finished her second play, Viagra With Legs, and her first book, "The Home," a memoir of an orphaned girl in the 1920s. She and Bortniker are working on Bombs Away!, a "musical tribute to the preservation of songs dropped like frozen turkeys from Broadway classics."

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