While the Kennedy Center preps for a new production of Randy Newman's Faust in February 2000, the composer is at work on another theatrical piece that incorporates a number of his best-known tunes. He and director Matt Casella have been holding a four-day workshop of "The Randy Newman Project" (working title) at California's South Coast Repertory, April 19-22, with a presentation of the piece capping the last day.
According to a source close to the workshop, the piece will have an operatic style, yet incorporate such Newman standards as "Dixie Flyer," "Follow The Flag," "Jolly Coppers on Parade," "Roll With The Punches," "Love Story," "Rednecks," "Birmingham," "Louisiana 1927" and "Kingfish" -- the latter four from Newman's landmark album, "Good Ol' Boys." Michael Roth is musical director for the workshop, with Jerry Patch serving as dramaturg.
Performers taking part in the workshop include Billy Porter, Kathleen Wilhoite, Jennifer Leigh Warren, Paul McCrane (Roundabout's The Country Girl), Gregory Jbara (Damn Yankees, Victor/Victoria), Cortes Alexander and Sherry Hursey.
Composer Newman has also written film scores for "Ragtime," "The Natural" and "Toy Story" and has recorded many pop albums including "Sail Away," "Twelve Songs" and "Land of Dreams." He recently released a four disk career overview box set and played a rare concert at New York's Town Hall, Nov. 10, 1998.
Newman's previous musical, Faust, has seen several incarnations at such venues as La Jolla Playhouse, in 1995, and the Goodman Theatre, in 1996. Michael Greif directed both productions. The Kennedy Center mounting, set for February, will be entirely new, and no talent is yet attached to it. -- By David Lefkowitz