Playbill On-Line has learned that casting for the Don Schlitz-Ken Ludwig musical, Tom Sawyer will take place in late July. Negotiations may already be underway for certain parts with actors who were featured in developmental readings of the work. In addition, a creative team for the new musical is in formation.
A tentative list of names linked to the piece features Tony, Drama Desk and Maharam award winning costume designer William Ivey Long, whose credits include Contact, Swing!, Epic Proportions, Annie Get Your Gun, Cabaret and Crazy for You. (Ludwig also wrote Crazy for You.)
The lighting designer for Tom Sawyer is reportedly going to be Peter Kaczorowski, who was nominated for a Tony Award last season for Kiss Me, Kate. Kaczorowski's other credits include Contact and The Music Man as well as various productions for the New York Shakespeare Festival, Roundabout Theatre Company and City Center Encores!
Choreographer David Marques is also linked to the project. Marques' credits include My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies at Carnegie Hall, which was directed by Tom Sawyer helmer Scott Ellis. Marques also choreographed the Harold Arlen musical/revue, Dreamland, The House of Martin Guerre at Chicago's Goodman Theatre and Let's Do It by Cole Porter at Long Wharf Theatre, with book by A.R. Gurney and directed by John Tillinger.
Michael Starobin has been named as the orchestrator for Tom Sawyer. Finally, scenic designer Heidi Ettinger rounds out the Tom Sawyer creative team. Landesman is a two-time Tony Award winner, for Big River and The Secret Garden.
The full creative team for Tom Sawyer has not been officially announced. A confirmation call to producers was not returned by press time.
As reported earlier, Tom Sawyer, will have a world premiere run at the Shubert New Haven in Connecticut before transferring to Broadway next season.
Tom Sawyer starts previews at the Shubert New Haven Feb. 27, 2001 and opens March 4. The subscription run goes through March 17. Plans are for the musical to transfer to an unnamed Broadway theatre in time for the 2000-2001 Tony eligibility deadline.
Schlitz wrote the songs for the show, and the book was written by Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You). The show will be directed by Scott Ellis, with musical direction by Paul Gemignani.
Producers for the show are The Nederlander Organization and Watt/Dobie Productions.
On June 12, addressing a small group of producers and press gathered at the Shubert's New Haven theatre, composer Don Schlitz said he hoped the show was good enough that Twain would have been able to say, "Yeah, that's from my book." Schlitz then went on to sing three songs from the show, two from the Shubert stage and another during a press reception at the theatre. Among them was Schlitz's "first love" ballad, which was written for the characters Tom and Becky.
Shubert New Haven's president and CEO Caroline Werth introduced the composer after announcing the theatre's 2000-2001 subscription season and described the show as being appropriate for broad family audiences, including young adults and children.
Schlitz is not the first country writer to pursue Broadway ambitions, but after being approached by the late Mike Ockrent and others about the possibility, he immersed himself in a study of the genre and has been educating himself about theatre ever since. "Ken, Scott and Paul have guided me through this whole process," Schlitz said in an earlier interview with Playbill On-Line. "Ken has given me a five-year intensive course in the theatre, and they've all been the best teachers."
A major country songwriter for the past quarter century, Schlitz has been influential in the careers of such stars as Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, The Judds, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Alison Kraus and others. Honored as ASCAP's Country Songwriter of the Year for four consecutive years, Schlitz has written fifty Top Ten hits and twenty four Number One songs. These include the Grammy winning song "The Gambler," as well as "On the Other Hand," "Forever and Ever Amen," "Deep than the Holler," "Heroes and Friends," "One Promise Too Late," "Strong Enough to Bend," "My Arms Stay Open All Night," "Forty Hour Week," "Stand a Little Rain," "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love," "When You Say Nothing At All," "Oh, Heart" and "She Deserves You," among others.
In New Haven, tickets range from $28-$60. Various subscription rates are available for the Shubert theatre's season. The Shubert Performing Arts Center is located at 247 College Street in New Haven, CT. For information call (203) 562-5666 or visit www.shubert.com.
-- By Murdoch McBride