Sally Ann Howes, recently featured in Broadway's James Joyce's The Dead, and a fond memory to many as Truly Scrumptious in the film, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," ends her run as romance-addled Countess Aurelia in a revised revival of Dear World Dec. 10, at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT.
Richard Sabellico (Off-Broadway's The Big Potato, The Jazz Singer) directs the Goodspeed Musicals production, which began Nov. 16. Composer-lyricist Herman (Hello, Dolly!, Mame) was actively involved with the new staging and contributed new songs to the piece. Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee wrote the original libretto, based on Jean Giraudoux's The Madwoman of Chaillot. The 200 seat Chester, CT, arm of the Goodspeed Opera House organization nurtures new works and is not open to critics.
David Thompson is credited with book rewrites for the show that is a cult hit among theatre fans (largely for its cast album), and won Angela Lansbury a Tony Award for her performance as a touched eccentric whose belief in idealism and romance topples corruption in Paris. (There is an oil-drilling scheme planned for the middle of the city.)
The score includes three "new" songs previously unheard in the standard version of the show — "A Sensible Woman," "Rather Rugged to Be Rich" and "Just a Little Bit More." They were apparently written for a rewrite developed after the Broadway run. The song "One Person," heard in New York and on disc, was cut from this revival. Herman, who has said he believes this is his "most mature and interesting work, especially lyrically," attended early rehearsals.
The cast includes Adam Barruch (Deaf Mute), Richard Bell (President 3), Kristin Carbone (Nina), Georgia Engel (Gabrielle), Diane J. Findlay (Constance), Howes (Aurelia), Warren Kelly (President 1), Frank Moran (Waiter), Ben Sheaffer (Julian), Guy Stroman (Sewer Man), Jeff Talbott (President 2), Jon Vandertholen (Sergeant) and Kirby Ward (Prospector). *
Howes played Aunt Julia in The Dead, and also appeared on Broadway in My Fair Lady, succeeding Julie Andrews, Kwamina, What Makes Sammy Run?, and Brigadoon, for which she received a Tony nomination. She also appeared in A Little Night Music and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella with New York City Opera.
Georgia Engel is the actress remembered for playing the delicate Georgette in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." She has also played roles in stock and regional theatre.
The score includes "And I Was Beautiful," "I Don't Want to Know," "I've Never Said I Love You," "Kiss Her Now," "One Person," "Each Tomorrow Morning," "The Spring of Next Year," "Pearls," "Dickie," "Thoughts" and "Voices."
Jennifer Paulson Lee choreographs. Designers are James Morgan (set), Suzy Benziger (costumes), Mary Jo Dondlinger (lighting). Darren Cohen is musical director.
Tickets for Dear World are $29. Call (860) 873 8668 for information, or visit the website at www.goodspeed.org.
— By Kenneth Jones