The York Theatre Company is staging the American premiere of the Australian musical, Prodigal, a contemporary musical inspired by "The Prodigal Son" Bible story, Feb. 26-March 31 at Theatre at St. Peter's in Manhattan.
Penned by Aussie partners Dean Bryant (book and lyrics) and Mathew Frank (music), the show is set in Australia and focuses on gay, 18-year-old Luke and his journey of self-discovery. He "flees his small hometown for the thrilling unknowns of city life [Sydney], takes a hard ride and some big falls, but ultimately he must return to his family for forgiveness," according to the York.
The cast features Christian Borle (of Broadway's recent Jesus Christ Superstar), Kerry Butler (Bat Boy), Alison Fraser (Romance/Romance, The Secret Garden) as Luke's mother, David Hess (of the recent Annie Get Your Gun) and Joshua Park (Broadway's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) as the title character. Opening is March 12.
"I'm enjoying the show tremendously," Fraser told Playbill On-Line. "I think it's a very special little piece. I've been immersing myself in the Australian experience — name an Aussie movie and I've probably seen it in the last three weeks. I'm kind of sick of Russell Crowe right about now and I didn't think that was possible. Prodigal's a very simple, personal story about an 18-year-old finding himself. I call it a 'coming out of age' musical. I'm the mom, and my children are these gorgeous boys named Josh Park and Christian Borle. The unbelievably sweet Kerry Butler is Maddie, a performance artist, and my husband is David Hess, and we do look a pair. The family dynamic is very warm, and I am loving the music."
York artistic director James Morgan, who designed the set, assisted with direction of the show late in the rehearsal process. Victoria Pero directs. Costumes are by Dan Lawson, lighting by Edward Pierce and musical direction by the composer. The musical, under the title Prodigal Son, premiered to critical acclaim at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the Midsumma Festival in January 2000 in Australia, with Bryant as Luke. In March 2001 Prodigal Son was nominated for three Victorian Green Room Awards and won Best Original Score and Best Supporting Actor for its Melbourne production. The twentysomething authors, creative and life partners who attended the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, have been in residence at the York during rehearsals.
"Prodigal features a rich score that ranges from lyrical ballads to contemporary pop," Morgan said in a statement. "With two sold-out engagements, the show was a huge success in Australia and we're excited to bring it to New York audiences."
Tickets are $45. Performances are 8 PM Tuesday-Saturday, with matinees 2:30 PM Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Performances are expected to continue to April 7.
The York Theatre at St. Peter's in the Citigroup Center is at 619 Lexington Ave. at 54th Street. For ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.
Off-Broadway's York is known for presenting new musicals, revived musicals and concert readings of musicals in an intimate setting.
— By Kenneth Jones