"We love the old MGM musical, but it is 2007," director Scott Schwartz told Playbill.com, referring to the original 1954 Stanley Donen film that was turned into a failed Broadway musical in 1982. Schwartz says that his production will feature a more realistic depiction of the 1850s Oregon backwoods, the setting for the story of seven brothers living in a log cabin and looking for love.
Schwartz's version will be presented by TUTS from March 13-25 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston, TX, before playing Paper Mill (April 11-May 13), North Shore (May 29-June 17) and Theater of the Stars (June 26-July 1).
The original film version had music by Gene de Paul and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The 1982 stage adaptation, which ran at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway for only fifteen previews and five regular performances, included Mercer and de Paul's songs from the film plus new songs by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn and a book by David S. Landay and Lawrence Kasha.
The authors of the show have been revising the script continually since then, even after Lawrence Kasha passed away in 1990. In spring 2005, Goodspeed Musicals offered a revised version that included new songs, including "Where Were You?" in place of "A Woman Ought to Know Her Place." Hirschhorn then passed away in Sept. 2005.
Another recent production toured the U.K. before landing at the West End’s Theatre Royal, Haymarket in August 2006. Schwartz says that his version will include some revisions Landay and Al Kasha have made since Goodspeed.
Schwartz says that he wants to "almost treat this more as a new musical and almost as a play" and to "really delve into the story and the environment in a very loyal way to the period and the world in which it took place.
"The idea of the physical production was really to make the show a little grittier and a little more real and more honest than an old MGM musical," Schwartz adds.
The creative team includes Anna Louizos (set designer), Don Holder (lighting designer), Christopher "Kit" Bond (sound designer), Jess Goldstein (costume designer) and Tom Helm (musical director). The choreographer is Patti Colombo, who also choreographed the Goodspeed version.
Ed Watts will play Adam and Michelle Dawson (Broadway's Show Boat and Cyrano - The Musical) will play Milly in a cast that also comprises Jason Babinsky, Becky Barta, Randy Bobish, Ryan Chotto, and, Christian Del Croix, Margot De La Barre, Stephanie Fittro, Christina Hedrick, Cameron Henderson, Nathan Hershberger, Sarah Marie Jenkins, Travis Kelley, Luke Longacre, Kate Marilley, Andy Paterson, Denise Payne, Benjie Randall, Luke Rawlings, Shane Rhoades, Eric Sciotto, Dan Sharkey, Tina Stafford, Tiffany Sudol, Nick Sullivan and Karl Warden.
The film was based on Stephen Vincent Benet's story "The Sobbin' Women," which was adapted from the myth "The Rape of the Sabine Women."
For tickets to the Theatre Under the Stars production, call (713) 558-8887 (or outside the Houston area call 888-558-3882) or visit www.tuts.com. The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts is at 800 Bagby at Walker in Houston, TX.