Featuring music, book and lyrics by Christopher Curtis, the cast includes Tony Award winner Michael Rupert as Chaplin, Luther Creek as young Chaplin, Denise Summerford as Chaplin's mother Hannah, Kate Baldwin and Sarah E. Litzsinger as Chaplin's wives Oona and Mildred, and Jacqueline Piro as Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.
Michael Unger will direct the workshop of Limelight, which promises a story in which "the wounded youth, the idealist, the cad and the genius all come together."
Behind the Limelight is one of three musical workshops that are part of the Martel Musicals season. The others include The Man in the White Suit — by Urinetown's Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann — and Michele Brourman, Amanda McBroom and Jeannine Dominy's Dangerous Beauty.
For more information visit www.newyorkstageandfilm.org.
Theatre writers and composers have used movie legend Chaplin as the main character in stage shows for years. As recently as February 2005, Pittsbugh audiences saw the U.S. premiere of Simon Bradbury's play, Chaplin, at the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre. Under the direction of Neil Munro, Bradbury, the British actor known for work at Canada's Shaw and Stratford Festivals, played the silent film auteur. Bradbury also wrote the play, billed as a "one-man multi-media exploration of the late actor/comedian Charlie Chaplin." It was originally produced at the Shaw Festival.
Bradbury's Chaplin isn't to be confused with a number of Chaplin-inspired musicals, including Chaplin the Musical, with book, music and lyrics by Anthony Newley, who played the lead in developmental productions that did not end up making a big splash (this despite Newley's famously Chaplinesque persona on and off stage).
Another unrelated musical, Chaplin, by librettist Ernest Kinoy, composer Roger Anderson and lyricist Lee Goldsmith, won the Carbonell Award in South Florida in 1994 and is also currently seeking production opportunities, the creators told Playbill.com. It refracts the early life and rise of Chaplin through an original score that recalls English music hall and other entertainment styles of the early 20th century. The show, which at one time was Broadway-aimed, is subtitled A Memory as Entertainment. A refreshed version of the musical was seen in a production in Sarasota, FL, in 2001. Visit www.chaplinthemusical.com.