Composer Michael John LaChiusa and librettist-director George C. Wolfe's new project -- based on a narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March -- is expected to be fully staged later this year. The workshop, overseen by Wolfe and LaChiusa, was a chance to further "work on the score and develop the shape of the piece," a Public Theater spokesman told Playbill On-Line. Casting and production details for the full production in 1999 are still being worked out.
The Wild Party, drawn from the poem about a debauched Jazz-Age party, was originally scheduled for February 1999 at the Public, but was delayed as the piece further developed.
Also in last month's workshop-reading cast were Keith David (Jelly's Last Jam), Debbie Shapiro Gravitte (Jerome Robbins' Broadway), Jane Summerhays (Lend Me a Tenor, Me and My Girl) and nine others.
Choreographer Joey McKneely (The Life) was also present during the workshop, which culminated in a Feb. 26 reading. Still on board, as previously announced, are scenic designer Robin Wagner (The Life, City of Angels, Angels in America), lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (Ragtime) and costume designer Toni-Leslie James (Footloose, Jelly's Last Jam, Angels in America).
Meanwhile, the composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa, who wrote john & jen and new tunes for the current Broadway revival of You¹re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, confirmed that Manhattan Theatre Club is workshopping his new musical, The Wild Party, based on the same March poem, April 12-May 24.
Gabriel Barre and Mark Dendy are aboard as director and choreographer.
The source material by March is in the public domain, meaning there are no copyright owners who have to be paid royalties. Musical theatre writers and producers are hungry for such material because it allows them to work cheaply, relying on a pre-existing story structure. Most everything published in the 19th-century and before, for example, is in the public domain.
The poem was also the source of director James Ivory's 1975 film, "The Wild Party" starring James Coco.