The Broadway-bound musical, Tom Sawyer, recently hit another delay when the intended director, Don Scardino, had to beg off the project because of sitcom-directing commitments in Los Angeles.
Producer Elizabeth Williams told Playbill On-Line (March 31) that she's approached another director and hopes to hear within a week or so whether that person will take the assignment.
She did assure me the project wasn't dead: "We are in between directors. We were planning to do another reading in the summer, and look towards a production regionally in the fall. That's our hope. They're also working on the text and score."
Tom Sawyer, a musical adaptation of Mark Twain's comic novel, has a book by Ken Ludwig (Moon Over Buffalo) and music and lyrics by Don Schlitz.
Still, producer Williams, just back from London, had happier news to announce: Doctor Zhivago, with music by Lucy Simon, lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, and book by Arthur Kopit, is being readied for a regional production sometime in late 1997 or early 1998. Trevor Nunn and John Caird, who were originally announced to direct, are no longer connected with the show, which will be staged by Jeremy Sams. Sams is best known as the adaptor/translator of Jean Cocteau's Les Parents Terribles into Indiscretions. He also translated Milwaukee Rep's 1995 staging of Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's Don Juan On Trial. "We've just had a reading," said Williams, "and we'll have a second. Helping produce the work are the Jujamcyns, who came to the first reading and saw Marcus Lovett as Zhivago, Marla Schaffel as Lara, Terrence Mann as Kamarovsky, and Kim Crosby as Tonya. Williams cautioned that these readings are still "baby steps...just the beginning, so any names or dates connected with the project are very tentative." She also noted that Schaffel is booked for Jane Eyre and unlikely to be available for Zhivago. No New York dates have been discussed.
Boris Pasternak's epic novel was the basis for David Lean's sweeping, romantic 1965 film starring Julie Christie and Omar Sharif. Maurice Jarre's score (including the pop hit "Love Theme From `Dr. Zhivago'") won the Oscar that year.
As for Tom Sawyer, Samantha Holman (then of producer Williams' office), said an initial reading of that show (songs included) took place Nov. 26, featuring Polly Holliday (TV's Flo on "Alice") as the Widow Douglas, Christopher Invar (Les Miz) as Injun Joe, and Cass Morgan (Pump Boys & Dinettes) as Aunt Polly. Tom was played by Sean Kennedy, Huck by Hunter Foster, Becky Thatcher by Jolie Jenkins, and Judge Thatcher by Dennis Parlato. Scardino directed the reading.
-- By David Lefkowitz