The 2002 York Theatre Company run featured rewrites by creators Mathew Frank and Dean Bryant, whose work, previously known as Prodigal Son, was seen in Australia. The cast album documents the talents of the York troupe: Christian Borle (the good brother and other roles), Kerry Butler (the big-city gal pal), Alison Fraser (the sons' mom), David Hess (the hard-working father) and Joshua Park (the "bad" son who gets lost in a world of sex, drugs and rock and roll).
Jay Records, run by producer John Yap, recorded the musical by professional and personal partners Mathew Frank (music) and Dean Bryant (book and lyrics) in October 2002. Prodigal, set in Australia, focuses on gay, 18-year-old Luke (Park) and his journey of self-discovery. He flees his small hometown of Eden for the thrilling unknowns of Sydney, where he meets a yearning actress (Butler) and a charming hedonist (Borle) who lures him to a life of clubs, parties, sex and drugs. At home, where Luke was to join the family fishing business, the parents (Fraser and Hess) worry and then struggle to deal with a returning son who is so different.
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 writer 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. Songs include "Picture Postcard Place," "Happy Families," "Run With the Tide," "Brand New Eyes," "When I Was a Kid," "My Boy," "Out of Myself," "Set Me Free," "Epiphany," "Love Them and Leave Them Alone," "Where Does it Get You?," "Maddy's Piece" and "Lullaby."
The York Theatre Company's staging of Prodigal, inspired by "The Prodigal Son" Bible story, opened March 12, 2002, following a preview period of revisions. During the Off-Broadway previews Feb. 26-March 10, York artistic director James Morgan took over the direction of the five-actor pop show from Victoria Pero. The intermissionless show was reportedly refined and trimmed since its first preview. Performances of the pop-friendly musical (with the composer accompanying on piano) continued to March 31 at Theatre at St. Peter's in Manhattan. Borle (double cast as lover and brother) appeared in Broadway's recent Jesus Christ Superstar, Butler is a veteran of Bat Boy and is currently starring in Hairspray, Alison Fraser is beloved for Romance/Romance and The Secret Garden, Hess appeared in the Annie Get Your Gun revival and Joshua Park was the title character in Broadway's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
York artistic director James Morgan, who designed the set, assisted Victoria Pero with direction of the show late in the rehearsal process. Pero later left the project. Costumes were by Dan Lawson, lighting by Edward Pierce and musical direction by the composer.