The Florida tryout of the Broadway-bound Urban Cowboy, the musical based on the film of the same name, ends its nearly sold-out run at Coconut Grove Playhouse Dec. 1, aiming toward a Broadway bow of February 2003.
It was tough to get a good seat in the show's final week at the Miami not-for-profit, a Coconut Grove spokesperson said. Good reviews followed the Nov. 16 opening.
The show has been in development for several years and has gone through many rewrites and reconsiderations in that time. In the last year, Jason Robert Brown was brought aboard to contribute three new songs and was signed as musical director and arranger. Earlier this year, co-librettist and director Phillip Oesterman died unexpectedly, and Lonny Price (A Class Act) was brought in to helm in Florida and the subsequent run on Broadway.
Urban Cowboy will two-step into a Shubert owned theatre on Broadway come February 2003, producer Chase Mishkin told Playbill On-Line Nov. 26.
Rehearsals in Manhattan begin in January. No first preview date, opening date or Broadway venue have been announced, though February is the first-preview target. Producers Mishkin and Leonard Soloway are waiting for a venue to open up. "We have had a great reception down there," Mishkin said of Florida. "Obviously a lot of work has been done since a year ago. The show is well set. We're gonna do some tightening and trimming and work more with the actors."
In addition to using hit country songs from the 1980 movie, the stage-show's score has three songs by Tony Award-winning Brown (Parade, The Last 5 Years), and two new songs from Jeff Blumenkrantz, whose songs have been sung by Audra McDonald. Blumenkrantz is a Broadway character actor whose work was seen in A Class Act and How to Succeed in Business... with Matthew Broderick. He is also a composer-lyricist and a member of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.
Mishkin said it's an "eclectic" score, but added, "we have the best blend of established music and new songs you've ever heard. It's a great marriage between the Broadway and country sound."
Mishkin said she was attracted to the project "because there's nothing like a household name when you're doing a show," but also because screenwriter Aaron Latham had such a strong storytelling sense. Latham co-wrote the book (based on his previous article and hit screenplay) with Oesterman.
The show stars newcomer Matt Cavenaugh as Bud, who gets seduced by the habitues in and around a honkytonk Texas bar, where a mechanical bull in the center of attention. Jenn Colella is Sissy, his love interest. Sally Mayes, Leo Burmester, Jodi Stevens, Rozz Morehead and Marcus Chait also star.
Capitalization for Urban Cowboy is $4.5 million, Mishkin confirmed. The show earned solid reviews from critics in the Sunshine State.
Urban Cowboy opened at the Coconut Grove Playhouse on Nov. 16, after previews from Nov. 7. The musical was to have begun on Nov. 5, but was delayed so difficulties with the set could be worked out. Performances continue to Dec. 1.
Price's other directing credits include an Off Broadway revival of The Rothschilds and The Matchmaker at the Roundabout Theatre Company. He also directed the 2000 production of Finian's Rainbow which toured the U.S. but failed to come into New York. On stage he has acted in Falsettos and Merrily We Roll Along (in a performance preserved on the cherished-by-fans cast album). He also appeared in the Broadway musical, Rags.
"The story takes place in Gilley's bar, the evening watering hole of the newly prosperous rig workers during the oil boom of the '70s," according to production notes. "It's a place rife with lots of laughs, personal drama and sexual tension — and as the song depicts — it's the place where everyone goes 'Lookin' For Love.'"
Songs in the show include "Could I Have This Dance," "Orange Blossom Express" and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." The original soundtrack went triple platinum.