Ed Dixon, Tobi Foster and Hugh Panaro will sing the Rodgers and Hart score of the circus-themed Jumbo, in a rare revival-in-concert as part of the York Theatre Company's Musicals in Mufti series.
The company, directed by Jay Binder, includes Michael McGrath, Price Waldman, Elizabeth Mills, Macintyre Dixon, JD Webster, Hunter Bell, Todd Horman and Kevin Kolack. Performances play Nov. 1-3 at the York's digs at The Theatre at St. Peter's, 54th and Lexington, in Manhattan.
Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (The Front Page, Twentieth Century) penned the book to the 1935 show, a lavish Billy Rose-produced extravaganza that mixed musical comedy elements with circus feats, at the famed Hippodrome. At $340,000, it was a record price tag for mounting a show and played 233 performances.
The plot is a Romeo and Juliet-style romance in which the son and daughter of feuding circus families fall in love. It features songs by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart that would endure: "My Romance," "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" and "Little Girl Blue." The score also includes "Over and Over Again," "The Circus is on Parade," "The Song of the Roustabouts," "Laugh," "Women," "Memories of Madison Square Garden," "Diavolo," and more. In the York concert staging, John Mulcahy is musical director.
This year marks the centennial of the birth of composer Richard Rodgers. Director Binder in the well-known New York casting director who has become known as a director in recent seasons. Jimmy Durante starred in the original staging of Jumbo, which had musical numbers directed by John Murray Anderson and book directed by George Abbott. Allen K. Foster staged the equestrian, aerial and acrobatic acts. Paul Whiteman and his orchestra provided music. Poodles Hanneford, the circus star, was also part of the cast that included Arthur Sinclair, Bob Lawrence, Donald Novis and Gloria Grafton.
The fall 2002 Musicals in Mufti series, celebrating "underappreciated musicals," continues in subsequent November weekends with How Now Dow Jones (Nov. 8-10) and New Girl in Town (Nov. 15-17).
All three Mufti shows this fall have a link to the legendary producer-director-writer George Abbott. "Mufti" means "in street clothes, without the usual trappings."
The performance schedule for all three Musicals in Mufti is 8 PM Friday-Saturday, 2:30 PM matinees Saturday Sunday and 7:30 PM Sunday. Audience discussions follow each matinee performance. Single tickets are $30, and are available via Tele-charge, at (212) 239-6200. A $75 three show ticket package is available by phone or in person at the York Theatre Box Office; call the York Theatre box office at (212) 935-5820.
For more information, try the York Theatre Company's website at www.yorktheatre.org.
— By Kenneth Jones