The Civil War, composer Frank Wildhorn's short-lived Broadway musical, will rage on in a newly designed and conceived national tour starring Larry Gatlin and John Schneider, alternating in the lead role.
British director Stephen Rayne, a Trevor Nunn associate whose background includes Shakespeare, will stage the conceptual concert about the war between the states for a tour commencing Jan. 18, 2000, in Cincinnati. Bookings covering six months have been announced by tour producer Ken Gentry, of NETworks Presentations, LLC. More dates are expected.
The musical, co-authored by Wildhorn, Jack Murphy and Gregory Boyd, had a short run on Broadway in spring 1999 at the St. James Theatre. Wildhorn's fans embraced the pop conceptualization of the American Civil War (directed by Jerry Zaks), but critics rejected it. High-profile partly for being Wildhorn's third concurrent show on Broadway (including The Scarlet Pimpernel and Jekyll & Hyde), the show earned two Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical.
The tour is expected to have a smaller cast, an on-stage band, and will be more loosely theatrical, giving many of the 22 songs about the people, personalities and tensions of the 1861-65 conflict, to the lead performer.
"At the end of each performance of The Civil War in New York City we saw audiences standing and cheering; some with smiles and some with tears," producer Gentry said in a statement. "And we felt this was a grand reason to bring this wonderful experience to the rest of the country." It was not immediately known how much of the original score would be used (about 22 songs in all are expected), or if Wildhorn and lyricist Murphy are writing any new material. The authors and Rayne are collaborating on the new conception, which begins rehearsals Dec. 6.
Additional casting will be announced later.
"With this new staging we are taking the best of what the piece has to offer and placing it in a new context that makes it work," director Rayne said in a statement. "We are finding the true spirit of this amazing work."
The new creative credits (with some holdovers from Broadway) include musical staging by Peter Pucci (The Joffrey Ballet, Pilobolus Dance Company); scenic design by Douglas W. Schmidt (Broadway's Civil War, Grease, They're Playing Our Song); lighting design by Howell Binkley (Kiss of the Spider Woman); costume design by Christine Hanak (NETworks' current touring production of Show Boat); projections by Wendall K. Harrington (The Who's Tommy, Ragtime, Putting It Together, Civil War); and orchestrations by Kim Scharnberg (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Civil War).
Grammy Award-winning country singer and Broadway actor Gatlin (The Will Rogers Follies) and television and stage actor John Schneider (Grand Hotel) will share the starring role.
Rayne directed stagings of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Othello, The Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, They Shoot Horses Don't They? and The Great White Hope.
NETworks Presentations, LLC, is a theatrical production company based in Maryland. The current season includes national tours of Annie, directed by Martin Charnin; Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde; Hammerstein and Kern's Show Boat; and a newly-mounted production of Victor/Victoria.
The 2000 tour cities include Cincinnati Jan. 18-30 (Larry Gatlin), Indianapolis Feb. 1-6 (Gatlin), Baltimore Feb. 8-13 (John Schneider), Chicago Feb. 23-27 (Gatlin), Providence Feb. 29-March 5 (Gatlin), Cleveland March 7-19 (Gatlin), Atlanta March 21-26 (Gatlin), Wilmington, DE, March 28-April 9 (Gatlin), Nashville April 11-16 (Gatlin), Pittsburgh April 18 23 (Schneider), Louisville April 25-30 (Schneider), Columbus, OH, May 2-7 (Schneider), Hershey, PA, May 9-14 (Schneider), Hartford May 16 21 (Schneider), Tempe, AZ, May 30-June 4 (Gatlin), Costa Mesa, CA June 6 11 (Gatlin), Denver June 13-25 (Gatlin).