On Oct. 6, Varese Sarabande Records will release a concept recording of a musical likely to reach the regionals in the next few months: The Night of the Hunter. On the disk are Ron Raines (Olympus On My Mind, Teddy And Alice ), Sally Mayes (Closer Than Ever ), Dorothy Loudon (Annie ), Marcia Lewis (Chicago ), George Lee Andrews, Jonathan Freeman (She Loves Me ), Frankie J. Galasso, Erin Hill (Titanic), Andrea Bowen and Alet Oury.
Chicago's Goodman Theatre will stage a developmental workshop (not for the public) of the Claibe Richardson-Stephen Cole show in November, though no casting has yet been announced, according to the Goodman press office. Robert Falls (The Young Man From Atlanta, The Rose Tattoo ) will direct the workshop of this musicalization of the 1955 Robert Mitchum film noir. Actress Loudon voices the part originated on screen by Lillian Gish.
Originally workshopped at NY's Vineyard Theatre, June 1996, The Night Of The Hunter was recorded Dec. 3, 1997. The show has music by Claibe Richardson (The Grass Harp) and lyrics by Steven Cole. The CD features orchestrations by Donald Johnston and musical direction by Todd Ellison. The disk is produced by Bruce Kimmel.
Robert Mitchum had a long and varied film career, but two of his greatest roles were both psychopathic meanies. He's better known for "Cape Fear" (later remade), but he also sent shudders through the aisles as a homicidal preacher in "Night Of The Hunter," the only film directed by Charles Laughton.
That movie was also remade (as a TV pic starring Richard Chamberlain) and is now the subject of a musical by the same folks who created Grossinger's, Richardson and Cole. Richardson is best known for the Broadway score, The Grass Harp, which showcased Barbara Cook. (Cook's version of the song "Chain of Love" is part of the Metropolitan Opera Guild's CD collection, "100 Years of the American Musical Theatre.") Richardson also written incidental scores for a Broadway revival of The Royal Family, and The Curse of an Aching Heart starring Faye Dunaway.
Lyricist and librettist Cole has written several musicals, including two recent Texas productions -- Dodsworth starring Hal Linden, Beth McVey and Dee Hoty, at Casa Manana, and After the Fair at Lyric Stage this past February. His new work, Time After Time, with music by Jeffrey Saver, is expected to premiere in Casa Manana's 1998 season.
Mayes appeared on Broadway in She Loves Me, Off-Broadway in Closer Than Ever and will soon be in the regional staging of the Patsy Cline musical, Honky Tonk Angel. Freeman was also in She Loves Me (as the waiter creating "a romantic atmosphere"), while Raines starred in Teddy And Alice and Off-Broadway's Olympus On My Mind. Lewis is currently playing Mama in Chicago; Loudon starred in Annie and Comedy Tonight. Raines will soon release a CD on JAY Records, "Ron Raines' Broadway Passion.
Asked about how she was tapped for the Lillian Gish role, Rachel Cooper, on the Hunter CD, Loudon told Playbill On-Line (Dec. 3, 1997), "They just called me. The phone rang. Plus, I know Stephen Cole and really admire Claibe's work. So they sent over a tape, and it's a truly beautiful score." Loudon's songs include "One More Harvest" and "The Wind Blows."
"I think they're doing the CD first to get interest going," she said at the time. "It's very difficult to raise money for shows now, and people are afraid to take chances. Still, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago is apparently very interested in the show." Loudon said the musical arrangements (full orchestra) for the CD were first recorded in Los Angeles, and that the New York performers are singing to the pre-taped score.
Loudon's last theatrical venture was a concert staging of Sweet Adeline at City Center.