The Pirate Queen Sails Into Her Chicago Opening Oct. 29

News   The Pirate Queen Sails Into Her Chicago Opening Oct. 29 Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's new swashbuckling slice of Irish history, The Pirate Queen — featuring Stephanie J. Block in the title role —opens Oct. 29 in a world-premiere engagement in Chicago.
Jeff McCarthy in The Pirate Queen
Jeff McCarthy in The Pirate Queen Photo by Joan Marcus

Broadway is on the horizon for the musical adventure about Shakespeare-era Irish chieftain Grace O'Malley — not a widely known figure in the U.S. Broadway previews will begin March 2, 2007, at the Hilton Theatre toward an opening April 5. This fall, The Pirate Queen has been developing in Chicago rehearsals and in previews since Oct. 3 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre; it plays to Nov. 26.

Producers Moya Doherty and John McColgan, known for Riverdance, aren't doing the show small: The cast numbers 42 as of the Chicago opening. But, then, who wants — or expects — something tiny or intimate from the writers who gave us the universal ideas and expansive melodies and themes of Miss Saigon and Les Misérables?

Tony Award winner Frank Galati (Ragtime, The Grapes of Wrath) directs a cast that includes Block (as Grace O'Malley), Hadley Fraser (Tiernan), Linda Balgord (Queen Elizabeth I), Marcus Chait (Donal), Jeff McCarthy (Dubhdara) and William Youmans (Bingham).

According to the producers, "The Pirate Queen is an epic musical adventure celebrating the legendary Irish Chieftain Grace O'Malley. Based on her real-life story, The Pirate Queen tells of a compelling, inspirational woman; a heroine who led an extraordinary life as a pirate, chieftain, lover and mother in 16th century Ireland."

Commissioned and produced by Riverdance's Doherty and McColgan, "this new musical combines classic storytelling and a sweeping score, with the powerful, vibrant traditions of Irish dance and song, to create a modern musical event that is both an historic romance and a timeless epic." The Pirate Queen is based upon the novel "Grania-She King of the Irish Seas" by Morgan Llywelyn.

Galati previously told Playbill.com the staging will be both actor-driven and special effects-spiked. The producers promise storms, fires and other spectacular moments in the epic.

The acting company also includes Kathy Voytko (standing by for Block in the title role), young Chicago actors Chase Krepp and Brooks Marks as Eoin, Nick Adams, Richard Todd Adams, Caitlin Allen, Sean Beglan, Timothy W. Bish, Jerad Bortz, Troy Edward Bowles, Grady McLeod Bowman, Rachel Bress, Don Brewer, Kimilee Bryant, Alexis Ann Carra, Áine Uí Cheallaigh, Noelle Curran, Bobbie-Ann Dunn, Brooke Elliott, Christopher Garbrecht, Eric Hatch, Cristin J. Hubbard, David Koch, Timothy Kochka, Jamie LaVerdiere, Joseph Mahowald, Tokiko Masuda, Padraic Moyles, Brian O'Brien, Kyle James O'Connor, Michael James Scott, Greg Stone, Katie E. Tomlinson, Daniel Torres, Jennifer Waiser and Briana Yacavone.

The creative team also includes choreographer Mark Dendy (Taboo, MTC's The Wild Party, Metropolitan Opera's The Magic Flute); John Dempsey (Witches of Eastwick) who has co-written the lyrics; Julian Kelly, principal orchestrator and musical director; three-time Tony Award winner Eugene Lee (Wicked), scenic designer; two-time Tony Award winner Martin Pakledinaz (Kiss Me, Kate), costume designer; four-time Tony nominee Kenneth Posner (Wicked), lighting design; sound designer Jonathan Deans (Ragtime). Also contributing are Carol Leavy Joyce (Irish dance step choreography), J. Steven White (fight director), Paul Rubin (aerial design), Paul Huntley (wig design), Angelina Avallone (make-up design), Howard Werner (projection design), Greg Meeh (special effects), Tara Young (associate director), Rachel Bress (associate choreographer), Peter Lamb (production manager).

Frank Scardino, Theatre Production Group LLC is the general manager. Edgar Dobie is the executive producer.

For more information, visit www.thepiratequeen.com.

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Hadley Fraser and Áine Uí Cheallaigh are appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association.

Galati won two Tony Awards in 1990 for his highly praised adaptation and direction of Steppenwolf's production of The Grapes of Wrath on Broadway. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 1998 for directing the musical Ragtime.

Block, who played Liza in The Boy From Oz and Elphaba in the national tour of Wicked, plays the title character, Grania, aka Grace O'Malley.

Balgord (Queen Elizabeth I) toured in Aspects of Love and was recently Madame Dindon in Broadway's La Cage aux Folles; Hadley Fraser (Tiernan), has been seen in U.K. productions of Pacific Overtures, Les Misérables, The Far Pavilions, Assassins, and more; Jeff McCarthy (cast as Dubhdara) may be best known for playing Officer Lockstock in Broadway's Urinetown.

Stephanie J. Block leads the ensemble in Boublil and Sch
Stephanie J. Block leads the ensemble in Boublil and Sch Photo by Joan Marcus