Varese Sarabande records is entering the concept-album business with a studio recording of a new musical, The Night of the Hunter, based on the Robert Mitchum film thriller.
Originally workshopped at NY's Vineyard Theatre, June 1996, The Night Of The Hunter will be recorded Dec. 3, with Ron Raines, Jonathan Freeman, Sally Mayes and Dorothy Loudon doing the vocal honors. The show has music by Claibe Richardson (The Grass Harp).
Varese Sarabande, known for its "Lost in Boston" series, is scheduled to release the CD in late spring 1998.
Mitchum had a long and varied film career, but his two 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, Claibe Richardson and Stephen 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.
Other singers include Alet Oury, George Lee Andrews, Andrea Bowen and Frankie Gallaso.
Asked about how she was tapped for the Lillian Gish role, Rachel Cooper, on the Hunter CD, Loudon told Playbill On-Line (Dec. 3), "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. "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 has a role in the new Clint Eastwood film, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil, but her last theatrical venture was a concert staging of Sweet Adeline at City Center, which, she says, also has serious recording interest.
-- By David Lefkowitz