The time for Time and Again may be at hand.
Discussions are under way for a chamber production of the Broadway-aimed musical, Time and Again, for Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage II in January 2001, according to industry sources.
Susan H. Schulman (Violet, The Sound of Music, The Secret Garden) would direct, Kathleen Marshall choreograph and Kevin Stites musical direct, drawing on their experience helming the May 1999 workshop and reading of the tuner by composer-lyricist Walter Edgar (Skip) Kennon and librettist Jack Viertel.
MTC would partner with the show's commercial producers for the staging, which is expected to have a set design by Eugene Lee (Show Boat, Ragtime). The hope among those involved is that the 15-actor chamber version may be expanded to a Broadway production.
The musical, in development for the past several years, including a 1996 regional staging at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, draws on Jack Finney's popular novel about a modern-day New Yorker who travels back in time and is pulled between his modern girlfriend and a woman from the 1880s. The show also includes a mystery and sinister plot points that reach explosive proportions. The accompaniment in the intimate three-quarter MTC Stage II would likely be two pianos. A transfer would expand the size and sound of the piece.
A spring 2000 Broadway production date had been eyed for Time and Again, but that never materialized. The May 1999 workshop was presented by Steven Baruch, Thomas Viertel, Richard Frankel, Marc Routh, Dede Harris/Jeslo Productions, Metropolitan Entertainment Group, Nederlander Organization, Liz Oliver and Anne Strickland Squadron.
The May 18-22, 1999, workshop cast is likely to be sought for the Off Broadway MTC venture. Some casting offers are out. For the previous workshop, Schulman directed a cast led by Brian d'Arcy James (Titanic) as illustrator Si Morley, the government's choice for a time travel experiment that leads him to unexpected mystery and love.
Songwriter Kennon, who wrote Herringbone with lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh, is artistic coordinator of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Observers of the Time and Again workshop and those who know the demo recording that has circulated through the industry regard the piece as faithful to the tone of the novel (which is so popular it's still in print) and rich with humanity and melody. For several years it has been thought to be one of the great theatre scores that few people have heard.
Songs in the show include "At the Theatre," "Who Would Have Thought It?," "She Dies," "The Lady in the Harbor," "Who Are You Anyway?" "Si's Soliloquy," "For Those You Love," "The Music Of Love," "Time and Time Again," "The Right Look," "I Know This House" and more.
Featured in the May 1999 workshop were character actor Dakin Matthews (Playwrights Horizons' Freedomland) as Dr. Danziger, director of the time-travel project; Laura Benanti (later in Swing!) as 19th century Julia; William Parry as Pickering; Don Stephenson as Felix; Julia Murney as modern love, Kate; Kay Walbye as Aunt Evie; Lauren Ward as Emily and Joseph Kolinski as the Trolley Man.
The 22-actor workshop company also included Melissa Rain Anderson, Ann Arvia, John Bolton, Mindy Cooper, Ronn Ealy, Dottie Earle, Robert H. Fowler, Jenny Hill, David Masenheimer, Linda Mugleston, Pedro Porro, Scott Robertson and Karin Wolfe.
Catherine Zuber (The Sound of Music, Twelfth Night, Triumph of Love) was the costume consultant for the workshop.
It was producers Thomas Viertel, Steven Baruch and Richard Frankel who initiated the project, about escaping into the romance and intrigue of a seemingly simpler, better New York City.
The late Jack Finney's 1970 novel -- a genuine cult classic, still in print -- includes prosaic, detailed descriptions of New York City life at the end of the 19th and 20th centuries. "From Time to Time" was a sequel that used the same characters. His best known work might be "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
-- By Kenneth Jones