Time and Again, the long-in-development musical version of the popular time-travel novel of the same name, resurfaces once more in four New York City workshop readings May 18-22.
Susan Schulman (Violet, The Sound of Music, The Secret Garden) directs 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.
The five-week workshop, which began April 19, is expected to be the final step toward a Broadway production for the musical by composer lyricist Skip Kennon and librettist Jack Viertel. A 1996 regional staging at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, directed by Jack O'Brien, got mixed reviews and sent the collaborators and producers into a rewrite period and further development, which included the enlistment of Schulman.
Charismatic tenor Brian d'Arcy James played Frederick Barrett in Titanic, has performed in Carousel and Les Miserables and is often seen in readings, concerts and cabarets (sometimes singing his own songs), including York Theatre's scaled-back 1998 revival of the flop musical, Kelly. He now plays illustrator Morley, who travels back to 1882 as part of a government project. Character actor Dakin Matthews (Playwrights Horizons' Freedomland) has the choice role of Dr. Danziger, director of the time-travel project.
Among James' co-stars in the Time and Again workshop are Laura Benanti as Julia, William Parry as Pickering, Don Stephenson as Felix, Julia Murney as Kate, Kay Walbye as Aunt Evie, Lauren Ward as Emily and Joseph Kolinski as the Trolley Man. Benanti, who is not yet 21, is the current Maria in The Sound of Music, and is the daughter of actor Martin Vidnovic, seen in Baby, 1979's Oklahoma! and A Grand Night for Singing..
Kathleen Marshall is choreographer and Kevin Stites (On the Town, Titanic, Sunset Boulevard) is musical director.
The industry readings May 18, 20, 21 and 22 are private and by invitation only.
Among the Time and Again producers are 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.
Kennon, who wrote Herringbone with lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh, is artistic coordinator of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. He was recently attached to the in-development musical, Don Juan DeMarco.
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