Brenda Braxton has some affinity for singing the songs of the 1960s. Her renditions of Leiber and Stoller's "Trouble," "Some Cats Know" and "Don Juan" netted her a 1995 Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Now she'll try her hand at "Leader of the Pack," "Chapel of Love" and other hits of Ellie Greenwich in the musical revue Leader of the Pack, set to begin a tour March 16 at the Playhouse Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware.
The Tony and Grammy Award-nominated Leader of the Pack originally ran on Broadway in 1985 in a more traditional musical form with a book and characters. This Leader, however, now emulates Smokey Joe's Cafe in its format, playing as a song cycle instead of in story form. Among the Greenwich tunes are "Be My Baby," "Da Doo Ron Ron," "Hanky Panky," "River Deep, Mountain High," "Chapel of Love" and "(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry," as well as three new songs penned for the production - "If You Loved Me Once," "The First Time" and "The Sunshine After the Rain."
Joining Braxton are Shoshana Bean (Godspell), Todd DuBail, Duane Martin Foster, Angela Garrison, Amy Goldberger, Joe Machota, Ric Ryder, Denise Summerford, Jewel Tomkins and Ashley Howard Wilkinson. Dianna Bush and David Josefsberg are the swings.
Kurt Stamm (2000 MAC Award-winning Our Sinatra) directs with choreography by Tony Award winner Scott Wise (Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Fosse).
Designing Leader of the Pack are Michael Anania (sets), Theresa Squire (costumes), Jeffrey Koger (lighting) and Robert Kaplowitz (sound). The Delaware engagement runs through March 25. The rest of the tour follows:
March 27-April 1: East Lansing, MI; Wharton Center
April 10-15: Hartford, CT; Bushnell Theatre
April 17-29: Boston, MA; The Shubert Theatre
May 2-11: Denver, Co; Buell Theatre
May 22-27: Dallas, TX; Music Hall
May 29-June 3: Green Bay, WI; Weidner Center
For tickets in Wilmington, call (302) 656-4401. For other tickets, contact the individual venues.
— By Christine Ehren