Gregory Mosher and Arielle Tepper had hoped to produce a musicalization of James Joyce's story, "The Dead," on Broadway last season, but the planning came too late in the season to raise the necessary funding ($3 million at that point).
Mosher has kept the project "very much alive" since then, he told Playbill On-Line (June 10), but he's still not quite ready to say where the show will end up this fall, though he openly hinted it was likely to wind up at a non-profit house. One cast-member of the readings told Playbill On-Line she was anticipating an autumn run at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons but wouldn't get excited about it until the contracts were actually on the table. A Playwrights Horizons spokesperson had no comment about the theatre's upcoming season.
Back in February, Mosher and Tepper tried to bring The Dead to Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre (where Parade closed Feb. 28), but it was too much, too soon. Still, the planning would continue. At the time, he told PBOL, "The cast members are still up for it. The people I've spoken to are certainly interested, and we love them in the roles." Those actors include Patti LuPone, whose interest in the seemingly non commercial project started the push for Broadway. No word on whether LuPone is still part of the mix. At the time, LuPone's co-stars intended for the project were to include Eileen Brennan, Sally Ann Howes, Daisy Eagan (Tony-winner for Secret Garden) and downtown diva John Kelly.
Early in `99, The Dead was planned for Off-Broadway's Orensanz Center, opening April 1, with rehearsals scheduled to begin Feb. 22. Playwright Richard Nelson (New England, Good Night Children Everywhere) adapted The Dead, and Jack Hofsiss (The Elephant Man) was to direct a cast of 16. The design crew was to include David Jenkins (set), Jennifer Tipton (lights) and Jane Greenwood (costumes).
"The Dead" is taken from Joyce's famous short story collection, "The Dubliners." The story takes place on a winter's evening in Dublin. Two elderly sisters are holding an annual holiday dance and dinner in their house. Among the guests are Gretta and Gabriel Conroy. A song sung at the gathering revives Gretta buried memories of a boy she loved as a teenager and who died young. As Gabriel listens to Gretta relate the tale of her early love, he realizes a man he never knew has had a hold on his wife's imagination for years. Gabriel grapples with the revelation that the dead - even the unknown dead -- never release their hold on the living. The story was turned into a film in 1987, starring Angelica Huston and Donal McCann, under the direction of John Huston (the film was Huston's last.) As in the film, the theatre piece will feature singing and dancing, though Mosher is reluctant to call The Dead a musical. For now, he refers to it as a "play with music." Shaun Davey, an Irish musician, has composed a dozen songs for the show. In one number, Gretta tells the story of her lost love. The final song of the evening maps the course of Joyce's story's famous last paragraph.