SEATTLE-Composer Jule Styne, and librettist/lyricists Betty Comden & Adolph Green's 1956 hit musical Bells Are Ringing makes its incredibly belated NW premiere at The Village Theatre in Issaquah (east of Seattle 20 minutes by I-90), May 14.
The zany tale of an interfering but well-meaning answering service operator who finds romance over the switchboard was a huge hit of the 1956 Broadway season, especially for its star Judy Holliday who beat out both Julie Andrews (My Fair Lady) and Ethel Merman (Happy Hunting) for the Best Actress In A Musical Tony Award, and leading man Sydney Chaplin, who won in the Featured Actor category, acing out My Fair Lady's Stanley Holloway and Robert Coote.
The score, one of Styne's career high-points features "Just In Time", "Long Before I Knew You", "The Party's Over" and the unforgettable eleven o' clock number "I'm Goin' Back."
A new twist in the Village version is the casting of African-American actors in the Holliday/Chaplin roles. Lisa Estridge-Gray, the vivacious Ti Moune of Tacoma Actor's Guild's Once On This Island and shining Bon Marche department store Christmas star in the Cabaret de Paris' annual Forbidden Xmas revues is the answering service charmer Ella Peterson, while Timothy McCuen Piggee, most recently acclaimed for his turn in A Contemporary Theatre's Blues For An Alabama Sky is her boozy playwright beau Jeffrey Moss.
Others in the cast, directed and choreographed by Steve Tomkins include Vanessa Miller, Larry Albert, Clarke Evans, Dan Cooper, Kelly Boulware, Bob DeDea, Heather Benton, Jim Orr, Chris Clay and David Austin. Bells tolls May 14-June 28 at the Village's Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front Street N., Issaquah. Wed.-Sat. evening performances are at 8 PM, Sunday evenings at 7 PM, and with rotating Sat. and Sun. matinees at 2 PM. For tickets ($18-$28) call (425) 392-2202.