Street Corner Symphony Opens Nov. 24

News   Street Corner Symphony Opens Nov. 24
 
The new Broadway soul music revue, Street Corner Symphony, has rescheduled its opening from Nov. 18 to Nov. 24.
Cast members (L to R): C.E. Smith, Debra Walton, Marion J. Caffey and Catherine Morin
Cast members (L to R): C.E. Smith, Debra Walton, Marion J. Caffey and Catherine Morin Photo by Photo by Starla Smith

The new Broadway soul music revue, Street Corner Symphony, has rescheduled its opening from Nov. 18 to Nov. 24.

Conceived, choreographed and staged by Marion J. Caffey, the revue of 1960s and '70s soul music is currently in previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

A production spokesperon said set problems caused the cancellation of several early previews, and the show needed to make up that time as it gets on its feet for the opening. Playbill On-Line members also have reported changes in the show's book during previews.

Jose Llana, who played the leading role of Gabey in the summer 1997 Central Park revival of On the Town, joined the cast of the musical. Also featured in the cast is Victor Trent Cook, a Tony Award nominee for Smokey Joe's Cafe. The cast features Carol Dennis, Stacy Francis, Catherine Morin, C.E. Smith, Debra Walton and Eugene Fleming.

Kenneth Waissman, a co-producer of the original Grease, as well as Agnes Of God and Torch Song Trilogy, is producing the show with Bryan Bantry. Street Corner Symphony first tried out in February at West Palm Beach's new Burt Reynolds Theatre Institute. Waissman caught the production there and immediately wanted in.

The production team includes Neil Peter Jampolis (sets), Jonathan Bixby (costumes), Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (lighting) and Jonathan Deans (sound).

Waissman told Playbill On-Line (July 23) that the show was enthusiastically received and basically sold-out for its run. "I was sent reviews for the production in West Palm. It just hit my gut. I hopped on a plane and hit it off with Marion -- who was in the Jelly Roll! national tour and put together Blackbirds Of Broadway in New England. He sensed a re-fascination with the 60s and 70s."

"It's a very in-your-face retrospective," said Waissman, "from the innocent music of the early 60s to the more political late 60s, to the soul music of the 70s. Watching the baby boomers in the audience have this emotional response to the music made me realize this is an entertainment that could really work."

Waissman told Playbill On-Line, "the first half of the show is done more revue-style with some dialogue, so the characters have personality. The second is a glittering '70s rock concert."

Songs in the show include the early numbers, "He's So Fine" and "Baby Workout," as well as such kooky dances of the era as "The Mashed Potato," "The Swim," and "The Frug."

Waissman said later years will touch on Neil Young's "Ohio" (about the Kent State student massacre) and "a gospelly `American Pie.'" Then it's on to the 70s with "Soul Train," "Soul Man," and "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing." Tributes to soul legends will also fill the show, including a special section devoted to Morris King, who created the staging and choreography for many 1970s soul and/or Motown groups.

"He had tremendous influence on what we look at in concerts," Waissman said.

Most musicals take years to get to Broadway, but Waissman is actually used to a quick journey from start-up to opening night: "When I produced Grease, it started in Chicago in the summer of '71, and within nine months we were on Broadway. You just have to go on instinct. When I announced I was producing Torch Song Trilogy, people told me no one would come to see it. But I figured the visceral response would turn people on."

For tickets or information, call (212) 307-4100.

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