The music-heavy 1954 show is called "a musical play" in "Noel Coward The Complete Lyrics." The work was first billed as an "operette" in its Liverpool tryout, according to the book, edited by Barry Day. Longtime keeper of the Coward flame, Day is credited with editing and "additional material" for the new production.
Mark Hartman musical-directs the staging, which will have sets and costumes by the Tony Award-winning Walton, who recently directed and designed Goodspeed Musicals' Where's Charley?
Previews began Dec. 7 at the Irish Rep's home at 132 W. 22nd Street. The cast includes Kristin Huxhold, Mary Illes, Paul Carlin, David Staller, Collette Simmons, Greg Mills, Kathleen Widdoes, Josh Grisetti, Drew Eshelman and Elizabeth Inghram.
After the Ball is set in London 1899 at the turn of the century as "the creme de la creme gather at the home of Lord and Lady Windermere in Hyde Park for a brilliant soiree, the ball of the season," according to the announcement. "But amidst the warmth of the gaslights, the swirling ballgowns and the outrageous flirting from behind flashing fans, a secret lurks and betrayal rears its ugly head. Noel Coward's enchanting musical adaptation takes up where Oscar Wilde leaves off and Lady Windermere's honor is severely tested as home and duty lash dangerously with passion and compromise." Choreography is by Lisa Shriver and lighting is by Brian Nason.
Performances for After the Ball are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 3 PM.
Tickets are $45 and $50. For information, call (212) 727- 2737.
According to "Noel Coward The Complete Lyrics" (The Overlook Press, 1998), After the Ball was first presented by Tennent Productions at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, March 1, 1954, and then played London's Globe Theatre starting June 10, 1954, where it ran 188 performances.
For the Liverpool tryout, according to "Lyrics" editor Day, Coward called the show an "operette," but he apparently wanted it to be viewed as more than an operetta: to "approach true opera," Day wrote. Mary Ellis played the lead role but apparently proved to not be up to the vocal demands.
Songs written for the score include "Oh, What a Century It's Been," "I Knew That You Would Be My Love," "Mr. Hooper's Chanty," "Sweet Day," "Stay on the Side of the Angels," "Creme de la Creme," "Light Is the Heart," "May I Have the Pleasure," "I Offer You My Heart?," "Why Is It the Woman Who Pays?," "Lady Windermere's Aria," "Go, I Beg You, Go," "London at Night," "Clear, Bright Morning," "All My Life Ago," "Oh, What a Season This Has Been," "Farewell Song," "Something on a Tray," "Faraway Land," "Good Evening, Lady Windermere," "What Can It Mean?" ("Mrs. Erlynne's Aria"), "Letter Song" and "All Things Bright and Beautiful."
The British Coward, of course, was the 20th century renaissance man who was actor, director, composer, lyricist and playwright who created such plays as Private Lives, Hay Fever, Sail Away, Blithe Spirit, Present Laughter, Design for Living and many more.