Tale of Two Tuners: Wild Party Plans Firming Up for 1999-2000

News   Tale of Two Tuners: Wild Party Plans Firming Up for 1999-2000
Two songwriters. Two different musicals. Two theatres. Many artists. One source.

Two songwriters. Two different musicals. Two theatres. Many artists. One source.

It appears that a pair of musicals, each called The Wild Party, will indeed be seen in New York in 1999-2000 in two different nonprofit nurtured productions -- at Manhattan Theatre Club and The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, respectively.

A spokesperson for Manhattan Theatre Club confirmed composer-lyricist librettist Andrew Lippa's version of the Joseph Moncure March narrative poem, about a sex-and-booze Jazz Age party, will begin performances at MTC in February 2000. The Lippa version had an MTC workshop April 12-May 21, 1999, directed by Gabriel Barre and choreographed by Mark Dendy, who will repeat their chores for the full Off-Broadway staging.

No casting has been announced for the MTC production, but the workshop included James Barbour, Marin Mazzie, Kevin-Anthony, Luther Creek (Rent), Robin Irwin (Titanic), Jillian, Lawrence Keigwin, Bill Kocis, Alix Korey (Triumph of Love), Michael McElroy (Rent), Allison Munn (The Fantasticks), Bill Nolte, Steve Ochoa, Jayson Page, Elizabeth Parkinson (Fosse), Sara Ramirez (The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm), William Ryall (High Society), Jessica Stone and Dennis Stowe.

Meanwhile, at the Public, composer-lyricist Michael John LaChiusa's version, co-scripted and directed by artistic director George C. Wolfe, is still having its production details ironed out. A spokesperson said the show is indeed planned for early 2000. The creative team, including designer Robin Wagner, is in place, but casting is not set, nor is the venue. According to a New York Times item, a Broadway casting call has been announced for the show, but, according to a Public spokesperson, "nothing is signed" and the Public is "exploring" its venue, casting and date options.

The Public hosted a workshop of its version of the story Feb. 15-25, 1999. The cast included Vanessa Williams, Mandy Patinkin, Eartha Kitt, Keith David (Jelly's Last Jam), Debbie Shapiro Gravitte (Jerome Robbins' Broadway), Jane Summerhays (Lend Me a Tenor, Me and My Girl) and an ensemble of nine.

Choreographer Joey McKneely (The Life) was also present during the workshop, which culminated in a Feb. 26 reading.

Still on board, as previously announced, are scenic designer Wagner (The Life, City of Angels, Angels in America), lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer (Ragtime) and costume designer Toni-Leslie James (Footloose, Jelly's Last Jam, Angels in America).

A full Public production of the work, with a libretto and direction by George C. Wolfe, was planned for February 1999, but due to artists' schedules, was bumped to the 1999-2000 season, suggesting that the show will have stars to anchor the story.

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