Although based on the romantic novel about love, sacrifice and corruption in the time of the French Revolution, Two Cities is not the same A Tale of Two Cities musical getting Manhattan reading presentations (with full orchestra and Broadway talent) at the Little Shubert Theatre Aug. 19-20.
Playbill On-Line noted in a recent story about that show (by Jill Santoriello) that, because the novel is in the public domain, there are countless stage play and musical versions of it. The late summer presentations of both versions in the New York City area (launching in the same day) is proof of the pull and pitfalls of the public domain. In recent years, there were no less than three musicals based on the public domain verse poem, "The Wild Party."
The fully-produced two-piano Two Cities musical dawning in Connecticut is produced by Peaceful Nights Productions, LLC in partnership with Stamford Center for the Arts. It has a libretto by Chad Hardin and a score by Hardin and the late Dan Schillaci. The cast of 23 Broadway actors is directed by Lenore Shapiro and musical directed by Larry Pressgrove.
Broadway's Matt Bogart (Aida, Miss Saigon, The Civil War, Smokey Joe's Cafe) will play the tale's unlikely hero, Sydney Carton, "a bitter and cynical man who begins the miraculous process of transforming his life, re discovering his native innocence and idealism through his love for the ethereal Lucie Manette," played by Christeena Michelle Riggs (Les Misérables, Jane Eyre). "So deep is his love for Lucie that even when she marries another man — Charles Darnay, an expatriate French aristocrat," played by Richard Todd Adams (Insomnia, Little Fish, Listen to My Heart), "he's able to grow beyond his disappointment and become her friend and protector."
Linda Balgord (Cats, Passion, Sunset Boulevard) plays Madame Defarge, "who embodies both the heroism and the bloodlust of the French Revolution." In the fall of 2003, director Shapiro contributed to the first workshop production of the show at the Blue Heron Theatre in New York City (Leslie Hoban Blake staged the workshop).
Chad Hardin (book, music, lyrics) is co-author with Dan Schillaci of another Broadway-aimed musical, Dreamers, a modern New York romance about love on the Internet. In addition, Hardin has recorded two Waystation label discs featuring his own compositions: "First Flight," for solo piano, and "The Open Door to Everything," with cellist and Paul Winter Consort co founder David Darling. He is a Yale graduate.
Dan Schillaci (music, lyrics) wrote the book, music and lyrics for The Disappeared, based on a screenplay by Tony Schillaci. He was the founding editor of the East Coast publication Annandale, which featured articles by, among others, John Kenneth Galbraith, Joan Didion, and the last major essays of Mary McCarthy. His courses on opera were among the most popular at the University of California at Berkeley. Schillaci died in San Francisco November 2001.
The orchestrator of Two Cities is Tony-winner and Connecticut resident William David Brohn (Ragtime, Miss Saigon), and musical supervisor is conductor and Broadway legend Paul Gemignani (Assassins, The Frogs).
Brohn and Gemignani collaborated in spring 2004 to make the first orchestral recording of four songs from Two Cities.
The production at the Rich Forum, the first full production anywhere of Two Cities, will have two pianos in the pit.
General manager is Jeffrey Finn Productions, Inc. (Game Show, the upcoming On Golden Pond at the Kennedy Center).
Producer Arlene Scanlan began her career in 1978 working for Columbia Pictures in New York City followed by Marvel Comics Group and finally United Media Enterprises. She started her first company in Westport, Connecticut in 1991 representing such entertainment brands and properties as Carmen SanDiego, Sonic the Hedgehog, Reading Rainbow, Archie Comics, Connecticut Special Olympics and The World Wildlife Fund.
Her new licensing and property development and entertainment venture, Moxie & Co. manages the Ziggy character, Cindy Adams and Orange County Choppers. Her love for music started at The Juilliard School of Music and Music and Art High School in Manhattan and brought her full circle to producing her first Broadway-bound venture, Two Cities.
The performance schedule for Two Cities at Stamford's Rich Forum is Aug. 19 at 8 PM, Aug. 20 at 8 PM, Aug. 21 at 2 PM and 8 PM, Aug. 22 at 2 PM, Aug. 25 at 7 PM, Aug. 26 at 7 PM, Aug. 27 at 8 PM, Aug. 28 at 8 PM and Aug. 29 at 2 PM.
Tickets range $25-$40. For tickets, call (800) 233-3123 or visit www.onlyatsca.com or at www.telecharge.com.
Rich Forum, at 307 Atlantic Street, is located in downtown Stamford, CT, a few blocks from I-95 and the railroad station (Metro North New Haven Line from Grand Central Terminal).