Following a concert reading at Pasadena's Boston Court Theatre in 2012, director Schneider was encouraged by the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization to move forward with a fully realized production.
"Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the perfect environment for the artistic collaborative process required to reinvent a musical," said director Schneider in a statement. "I am thrilled to partner with Arkansas Rep and Bob to present the world premiere of this exciting new version of Pal Joey."
Pal Joey, which features music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart, will feature a new book by journalist Patrick Pacheco, based on the original book by John O'Hara. Musical supervision and arrangements are by Michael Reno.
The new score has been enhanced with other songs from the Rodgers and Hart catalog, including "The Lady Is a Tramp," "Sing for Your Supper" and "Glad To Be Unhappy," intermingled with tunes from the original 1940 show such as "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and "I Could Write a Book." Also included is the song "What is a Man?"
According to musical supervisor Reno's website, the trio of creatives have updated the show to 1948 and made the character of Joey an African-American. Within Joey's love triangle, Vera is white, and Linda is black. Additionally, the trio has "further upped the ante by introducing a white male pianist into the club who also falls in love with Joey." According to Arkansas Rep, "This Pal Joey answers that question in the most provocative and unexpected ways, exploding on stage with timeless jazz favorites, stunning tap dance numbers and plenty of sparkle while exploring morality, race, class and the timeless relationship between power and sex."
Performances will continue through Sept. 29.
Schneider also produced the award-winning documentary "Waking Sleeping Beauty," about Disney animation from 1984–94, and served as president of animation and chairman of the studio for the Walt Disney Company for 17 years.
Arkansas Repertory Theatre is located at 601 Main Street in Little Rock, AR. For more information, visit TheRep.org.