Most of the spring Broadway cast of James Joyce's The Dead are raising the roof of the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, where a special limited engagement of the rarefied tuner officially opens July 19, following previews that began July 11.
The cast for the West Coast premiere includes Stephen Bogardus, Faith Prince, Sally Ann Howes, Marni Nixon, Alice Ripley, Stephen Spinella, Donna Lynne Champlin, Angela Christian, Paddy Croft, John Kelly, Russell Arden Koplin (who was Daisy Eagan's understudy on Broadway) and Brandon Sean Wardell (who was Dashiell Eaves' understudy on Broadway).
The Tony Award-winning musical play, which earned director librettist Richard Nelson a Tony Award for Best Book, has a further lease on life: The Kennedy Center in Washington DC will host the revived production Oct. 11-Nov. 5 (at the Eisenhower Theatre), after its current L.A. run ends. Most of the cast is expected to return, but no casting announcement has been made.
Performances in Los Angeles continue to Sept. 3.
* James Joyce's The Dead went from a sold-out run at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons in fall 1999 to a limited run at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway to an open run at the same house, closing April 16, after 112 performances and 32 previews.
Producers Gregory Mosher and Arielle Tepper moved the Playwrights' company -- including stars Christopher Walken and Blair Brown -- to the Belasco, where it opened Jan. 11.
Walken began a three-week vacation shortly before the closing notice was announced. He was replaced on vacation by Stephen Bogardus, who played out the Broadway run, opposite Faith Prince, who had replaced Blair Brown when she left to start rehearsals for Copenhagen on Broadway. *
Drawing on the famous short story, "The Dead," by Joyce (for his collection, "Dubliners"), librettist-director Nelson and composer Davey created an intimate musical drama of detail, which some critics embraced as an antidote to brassier pop fare on Broadway.
For much of the show, the songs presented are presentational: Sung as party songs at an Irish Christmas gathering. Nelson and Davey used poetry fragments, music hall songs, chunks of Joyce's text and original lyrics and music for the patchwork score.
Bogardus plays the show's Irish narrator and husband, Gabriel Conroy, husband to Gretta, played by Prince. Gretta's memory of a dead love is stirred at the yule party, exposing an emotional chasm between the husband and wife.
Prince and Bogardus are old pals and co-stars from Off Broadway's Falsettoland.
Nelson is best known as playwright of Two Shakespearean Actors, Goodnight Children Everywhere, Some Americans Abroad and New England.
The Dead won the New York Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards for Best New Musical. Sean Curran recreates his Broadway choreography. Designers are David Jenkins (scenic), Jane Greenwood (costumes), Jennifer Tipton (lighting), Scott Lehrer (sound). Orchestrations are by Shaun Davey.
Ahmanson Theatre is located at 135 N. Grand Ave. For tickets and information call (213) 628-2772 or visit www.TaperAhmanson.com