Pinkins, Browne and Hines Lead Cast of Flowers for Encores!, Feb. 13-16

News   Pinkins, Browne and Hines Lead Cast of Flowers for Encores!, Feb. 13-16 Maurice Hines, Armelia McQueen and Tonya Pinkins will lead the cast of House of Flowers, the musicalization of the Truman Capote short story, which will lead off the City Center Encores! season of musicals-in-concert. It will run Feb. 13-16.

Kathleen Marshall will direct the piece, which has music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Truman Capote and Arlen, and book by Capote. Also starring are Broadway veteran Roscoe Lee Browne, as well as Nikki James, Brandon Victor Dixon, Brenda Braxton, Stacy Francis, Alexandra Foucard, Peter Francis James, Desmond Richardson, Wayne Pretlow and Everett Bradley. David Chase is the guest musical director.

House of Flowers is set on an island in the West Indies, where an unlikely love story blooms amidst a trade war between two brothels. In the original Capote short story, one woman leaves the life of prostitution for a different social trap as wife and in-law.

Perhaps the best known song from the score is "A Sleepin' Bee," which was made famous by Barbra Streisand. Other numbers include the calypso number "Two Ladies in De Shade of De Banana Tree" and the ballad "I Never Has Seen Snow." The show played 165 performances at the Alvin Theatre beginning Dec. 30, 1954.  Its original cast included Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, Ray Walston, Geoffrey Holder, Alvin Ailey and Arthur Mitchell.

Pinkins (The Wild Party) plays Madame Fleur, Armelia McQueen (Ain't Misbehavin') is her rival Madame Tango, Maurice Hines (the touring Guys and Dolls) is Captain Jonas, and Roscoe Lee Brown (Two Trains Running) plays the voodoo man, the Houngan.

* In other news, Kristin Chenoweth has been offered a leading role City Center Encores! new concert staging of Sigmund Romberg's The New Moon. The rarely seen 1928 work will run March 27-30.

"I want to do that one," Chenoweth told Playbill On-Line. "I have to work out my schedule."

The New Moon boasts three lyricists—Oscar Hammerstein II, Frank Mandel and Laurence Schwarb—and will offer a peek at early Broadway musical fare, when operetta reigned. The show, about a young man hiding from French authorities in 1790s New Orleans, played 500 performances in 1928, making it a huge hit for the time. It was also one of the last operettas to succeed on Broadway and one of the final triumphs of Romberg, who also wrote Blossom Time and The Desert Song. Gary Griffin, the hot-shot Chicago director of musicals, will make his Encores! debut with this work.

Chenoweth is due back on Broadway this fall in Stephen Schwartz's Wicked. She previously appeared in Encores!' On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

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Completing the Encores! Season, is Richard Rodgers and Samuel Taylor's No Strings. The musical had been rumored for the 2001 Encores! season but was canceled when Vanessa Williams, the expected star, bowed out to do Into the Woods. About an interracial love affair between a white novelist and a black model, the show originally starred Richard Kiley and Diahann Carroll in 1963. Ann Reinking will direct and choreograph the new staging.

Tickets for House of Flowers range $25-$85. Call CityTix at (212) 581-1212 or go online at http://www.citycenter.org.