Three Sisters Sing in Heart Land at Goodspeed

News   Three Sisters Sing in Heart Land at Goodspeed Heart Land, the Darrah Cloud/Kim Sherman musical that debuted in Palo Alto, CA in 1997, will get a further workshop this summer at Goodspeed Opera House's Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT (July 30-Aug. 23). This new musical about "childhood dreams rekindled" shows what occurs when three sisters return home to their family farm.

Heart Land, the Darrah Cloud/Kim Sherman musical that debuted in Palo Alto, CA in 1997, will get a further workshop this summer at Goodspeed Opera House's Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT (July 30-Aug. 23). This new musical about "childhood dreams rekindled" shows what occurs when three sisters return home to their family farm.

Heart Land, described as sort of a midwestern musical Three Sisters, the story features three women who are unhappy with the choices they've made in life. Returning home to the family farm to care for their terminally ill mother, they confront the loves and losses of their pasts.

Heart Land will be directed and choreographed by Dallas Theater Center Associate Director Jonathan Moscone. Filling the three female leads are Lauren Ward (the title role in Violet, Martha Jefferson in 1776) as Jenny, Kirsti Carnahan (Marta in Kiss of the Spider Woman) as Becca, and Barbara Tirrell (Annie) as Sara. Also in the cast are Don Chastain, Mike Eldred, Merle Louise (Sweeney Todd) and Robin Skye.

The show world-premiered June 1997 at TheatreWorks of Palo Alto. The musical is Cloud and Sherman's third collaboration. They began their partnership in 1988 with an adaptation of Willa Cather's O Pioneers!, staged at Boston's Huntington Theatre Company, and continued with Honor Song for Crazy Horse, which was performed by TheaterWorks in Palo Alto, CA, and by New Dramatists in New York City. As a playwright, Cloud is perhaps best known for The Stick Wife, which had productions at Hartford Stage and Manhattan Theatre Club. Sherman wrote the musical underscoring for Broadway's Hamlet and composed the Public Theatre musical, Lenny And The Heartbreakers.

Designing this Heart Land are Neil Patel (set), Walt Spangler (costumes) and Stephen Strawbridge (lighting). Thomas B. Lindblade serves as musical director. *

Heart Land joins a busy 1998 summer season at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, which has featured Mirette, the latest musical from the team who wrote The Fantasticks; Cy Coleman's latest musical, Exactly Like You, plus two revivals of Tony-winning musicals originally made famous by Bob Fosse choreography: The Pajama Game and Redhead.

The season opened (Apr. 1-June 26) with a revival of the Fosse choreographed 1955 Tony-winner, The Pajama Game.
Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt's Mirette, about a little girl who dreams of becoming a tightrope walker, plays through Sept. 18. The piece was developed at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre in 1996. A song from Mirette was featured in (and provided the title for) Jones & Schmidt's hit Off Broadway revue The Show Goes On.

Mirette has a book by Elizabeth Diggs, based on the children's book, Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully. Ten-year-old Mirette, who helps her mother run a boarding house for actors in 1890s Paris, is inspired by a former tightrope walker, The Great Bellini. In the course of the story she helps him overcome the paralyzing fear that has destroyed his career.

It's the latest work from the team that produced I Do! I Do!, 110 in the Shade, Celebration, and Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks, the longest-running musical in the world (now in its 38th year).

The cast features Cassandra Kubinski (who played the title role in Goodspeed's 1997 revival of Annie) as Mirette, and James J. Mellon as Bellini.

Also in the cast: Anne Allgood as Madame Gateau (Mirette's mother), plus Marsha Bagwell September Bigelow, Paul Blankenship, Bob Freschi, Michael Hayward-Jones, Leslie Ann Hendricks, Timothy Charles Johnson, Steve Pudenz, Amanda Watkins, Carrie Wilshusen and Jason Wooten.

Andre Ernotte (The Philanthropist, Goblin Market) will direct, with choreography by Janet Watson, sets by Neil Patel, costumes by Suzy Benzinger, orchestrations by Larry Moore and musical direction by Michael O'Flaherty.

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Redhead, a rarely-revived murder mystery vehicle for Verdon that won the 1959 Best Musical Tony Award, will close the mainstage season Sept. 23 to Dec. 13.

Though Redhead won the 1959 Best Musical Tony (a year after The Music Man and a year before Fiorello!),. the vehicle for dancer Gwen Verdon has never been revived on Broadway, and rarely elsewhere. Verdon played Essie Whimple, a worker in a wax museum who tries to solve the murder of a local music hall dance while pursuing the man of her dreams.

The score, by Albert Hague and Dorothy Fields, includes "Look Who's in Love." Other Hague scores include Plain and Fancy, Cafe Crown and TV's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The book was written by Herbert and Dorothy Fields, Sidney Sheldon (the famous mystery novel auth David Shaw.

Goodspeed's Redhead will be directed by Christopher Ashley, who staged last season's Lucky in the Rain at Goodspeed.

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The Goodspeed's second stage, the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, opened with Cy Coleman's Exactly Like You (May 7-31) and, after Heart Land, will gear up for Just So, a musical based on Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories." The musical arrives Nov. 5 and runs to Dec. 13 (recently extended from Nov. 29), co-produced by British impresario Cameron Mackintosh (The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables).

With music by George Stiles, book and lyrics by Anthony Drewe, Just So includes classic Kipling tales such as "How the Leopard Got His Spots," "How the Elephant Got His Trunk," "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin," and other tales, built around the coming-of-age of the Elephant Child. Joey McKneely choreographs.

Stiles and Drewe collaborated previously on British musicals Warts and All, Navel Fluff and Other Trivial Pursuits and Honk!. Stiles also wrote music for adaptations of Moll Flanders, Tom Jones, and The Three Musketeers.

For tickets to Goodspeed shows call (860) 873-8668. Previous musicals over 15 years at Goodspeed at Chester have included john & jen and Swinging on a Star.

In other Goodspeed news, the search is on for a new general manager; Howard Sherman will leave the company in August to become managing director of upstate NY's Geva Theatre.

For information on Goodspeed shows call (860) 873-8668.

-- By David Lefkowitz
and Robert Simonson

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