Richard Sabellico, late of Off-Broadway's A Majority of One and Home of the Brave, will direct the revised version of Jerry Herman's Dear World slated for Goodspeed-at-Chester/Norma Terris Theatre Nov. 16-Dec. 10.
No casting has yet been announced, but Jennifer Paulson Lee, attached to the spring 2001 musical, Little Women will choreograph Herman's 1969 cult tuner, based on the Jean Giraudoux's The Madwoman of Chaillot> The plot concerns a Parisian eccentric who fights the excesses of capitalism in the name of romance and humanity.
The nature of the revised Goodspeed script has not been determined. In addition to the original Jerome Lawrence-Robert E. Lee libretto, the authors wrote a second version in 1991 (deleting the title song) and there is also a 1998 script by David Thompson (Steel Pier, And the World Goes 'Round, Flora the Red Menace), which retains the title song.
Herman is "very involved" in the revisal, according to a spokesperson for the Connecticut nonprofit.
Chita Rivera has been mentioned for the lead role of the musical, but nothing has been signed. Rivera is starring in Anything Goes at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey Sept. 6-Oct. 15. Dear World originally starred Angela Lansbury (who won a Tony Award for it) and offered some of the songwriter's most intricate lyrics and lush harmonies. As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, at least three new songs have been written for the score: "Just a Little Bit More," "Through the Bottom of the Glass" and "It's Really Rather Rugged to Be Rich."
As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, Goodspeed Opera House was awarded a $75,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to further develop a revised version of Dear World. The Chester, CT, Goodspeed-at-Chester/Norma Terris venue nurtures new works in a critic-free environment.
Chita Rivera read a revised version of Dear World in New York City in April 1998, directed by Scott Ellis. For the star-studded reading, at the Roundabout Theatre, David Thompson (Steel Pier, The World Goes 'Round) penned a revised book, drawing from the existing libretto by Lawrence and Lee. It was not immediately clear who would be credited for the new libretto at Goodspeed.
The Goodspeed-at-Chester/Norma Terris 2000 season also includes world premieres of Dorian (based on "The Picture of Dorian Gray"), which played May 11-June 4, and the upcoming Summer of '42 (based on the coming of age film) Aug. 10-Sept. 3.
The original Broadway production of Dear World, directed and choreographed by Joe Layton and produced by Alexander H. Cohen, opened Feb. 6, 1969, at the Mark Hellinger Theatre and ran only 132 performances, but Lansbury won a Tony Award for playing Countess Aurelia, a Parisian eccentric who embraces love and shuns the modern world.
The show reunited Lansbury with her Mame authors. Herman's score is filled with love songs and marches, and many consider the work his most sophisticated. Songs include "And I Was Beautiful," "I Don't Want To Know," "I've Never Said I Love You," "Kiss Her Now," "One Person," the title tune, and more.
The 1998 Roundabout reading included Rivera as Countess Aurelia, Debra (The Time of the Cuckoo) Monk and Madeline (The Sisters Rosensweig) as Gabrielle and Constance, the other two madwomen originated by Jane Connell and Carmen Matthews, and Audra (Marie Christine) MacDonald in the Pamela Hall part of Nina. In Milo O'Shea's role of Sewerman was Alfred Molina (Art).
-- By Kenneth Jones
and Harry Haun