Producer Carolyn Rossi Copeland created the show, spiked with hit country songs, at the request of the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. She brought together acclaimed director Gabriel Barre (MTC's The Wild Party) and award-winning author Mark St. Germain (Camping with Henry and Tom) to link Tammy Wynette's life story with over 30 of her most popular songs.
Coincidentally, on June 4, the song, "Stand By Your Man," was voted the best country music song of all time by the Country Music Association in a Country Music Television poll. The Wynette song was released in 1968. Wynette died at the age of 55 in 1998 in Nashville, from a blood clot.
After playing two record-breaking runs in 2001 and 2002 at the Ryman Auditorium, the show traveled to the Bass Performing Arts Hall in Fort Worth, TX, for a run in January prior to the Goodspeed staging, which began in Chester, CT, May 15. The Terris is Goodspeed's developmental space and critics are not invited.
Copeland, also the producing artistic director of The Lamb's Theatre and a producer of The Prince and the Pauper there, told Playbill On-Line: "We are looking forward to a national tour, as well as currently eyeing a New York opening at the earliest possible venture."
* At Goodspeed, Nicolette Hart plays Wynette (and sings her hit songs) in the new musical directed by Gabriel Barre (Goodspeed's King of Hearts, Summer of 42). Librettist Mark St. Germain shaped the tale of the First Lady of Country Music, subtitled The Tammy Wynette Story.
Here's how Goodspeed bills the show: "5 husbands. 50 hit songs. 20 million fans. 1 woman's life. Follow music legend Tammy Wynette's journey of triumph and heartbreak. Through her humor and award-winning songs you'll share the joy when she finds everlasting love."
The songs in the show are used in concert sequences and to further the plot, as in a traditional book musical. The score includes "Stand By Your Man," "Why Baby Why," "I Saw The Light," "My Man (Understands)," "Between 29 and Danger," "The Race Is On," "Bedtime Story," "Apartment #9," "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad," "Love Bug," "My Elusive Dreams," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E ," "(We're Not) The Jet Set," "Near You," "We're Gonna Hold On," "I Still Believe In Fairytales," "Til I Can Make It On My Own," "She Thinks I Still Care," "Another Chance," "Did You Ever," "Golden Ring," "If Drinking Don't Kill Me Her Memory Will," "You And Me," "Til I Get It Right," "God's Gonna Get You For That," "Justified And Ancient," "Singin' My Song," "How Great Thou Art."
St. Germain is known for his plays Camping With Henry and Tom, Out of Gas on Lover's Leap and Forgiving Typhoid Mary. With Randy Courts, he wrote the musical The Gifts of the Magi, presented for 10 years at New York's Lamb's Theatre.
Barre will also direct Goodspeed's Camille Claudel starring Linda Eder this summer at The Norma Terris Theatre.
Stand By Your Man was produced by Nashville's Ryman Auditorium in 2001 and 2002 under Barre's direction.
Actress Nicolette Hart's credits include Off-Broadway's recent Heat Lightning, the national tour of The Civil War and the European tour of Grease.
Joining Hart is Miles Aubrey as Euple Byrd. Most recently Aubrey has been seen at Tennessee Rep as the Prince in Cinderella and Hortensio in Taming of the Shrew.
The role of Burt Reynolds is played Galen Butler, an associate conductor for Frank Wildhorn's The Civil War who has performed with artists such as Crystal Gayle, Dottie Rambo and Larry Gatlin.
Kevin Fox (of Broadway's Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story) plays Don Chapel.
Jim Heffernan portrays Michael Tomlin. He has toured with Nashville artists over the past 15 years, including Tammy Wynette herself.
The role of Young Tammy is played by Jenny Littleton, featured in the motion pictures "Existo" and "Gas Station."
Susan Mansur (the original Doatsey Mae of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) plays MeeMaw.
Jim Price is George Richey. He made his Broadway debut in The Civil War. Billy Sherrill is played by Louis Tucci, also seen on Broadway in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.
The role of country singer George Jones is played by Jim Wann, the principal author-composer of Pump Boys and Dinettes.
Musical direction and arrangements for Stand by Your Man are by Galen Butler. Designers are by Dennis C. Maulden (set), Bridget R. Bartlett (costume) and Todd O. Wren (lighting).
Stand by Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.
Tickets are $37. The Norma Terris, Goodspeed's developmental space for new works, is in Chester, CT. For information, call (860) 873-8668 or visit www.goodspeed.org.