Christine Andreas, the two-time Tony Award nominee who knows her way around a Richard Rodgers song following her nominated performances in Oklahoma! and On Your Toes, will play Vera in Prince Music Theater's staging of Pal Joey, Nov. 2-17.
Andreas, known for the above two Rodgers revivals in 1979 and 1983, respectively, also memorably appeared as Eliza in the 20th anniversary revival of My Fair Lady on Broadway. She later starred in The Scarlet Pimpernel on Broadway, playing Marguerite.
As the sexy older woman, Vera, she'll sing the Rodgers and Hart classic, "Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered)," at the Philadelphia theatre devoted the new, recent and classic musicals. The Prince is presenting the original 1940 book by John O'Hara, based on his short stories. The staging is part of the Prince's salute to late composer Rodgers during the centennial year of his birth. Lorenz Hart penned the lyrics. It would be his last full show before he died, and "I'm Talking to My Pal," a cut song about Joey's loneliness, is one of Hart's sadder and more deeply felt songs. The tune has often been reinserted into post 1940 productions of the show.
Vera's object of desire is the heel nightclub hustler, Joey, arguably musical theatre's first anti-hero, to be played by Trent Dawson (Broadway's The Herbal Bed). The cast includes Kelly McCormick as Joey's sweet girlfriend, Linda; Susann Fletcher as nightclub performer Gladys; Christa Justus as reporter Melba, who gets the cult-fave song, "Zip."
The cast also includes Tim Moyer (as Mike), David Bailey (as Ludlow Lowell), with Tara Bruno, Anne Connors, Lesley M. Faigin, Darren Fuller, Jenn Harris, Danielle Herbert, Zebediah Homison, Colin Liander, Wi-Moto Nyoka and Samuel A. Reyes. The stage classic has a score that includes "Do It the Hard Way," "Happy Hunting Horn," "I Could Write a Book," "Plant You Now, Dig You Later," " Take Him," "What is a Man?," "You Mustn't Kick It Around," "Zip," "A Great Big Town (Chicago)," "Den of Iniquity" and more.
The show had its tryout premiere in Philadelphia and played 374 performances on Broadway, with Gene Kelly in the title role and Vivienne Segal as the older vamp, Vera. George Abbott produced and directed. Robert Alton choreographed. The show had a popular revival in 1952 that played 542 performances, again with Segal, and with Harold Lang as Joey. Elaine Stritch played reporter Melba (the show is preserved on a cast album). Bob Fosse played Joey at City Center in 1961 for 31 performances. Circle in the Square revived it, in 1976 for 73 performances, with Christopher Chadman. A concert version of the complete score was presented by City Center's Encores in 1995, starring Peter Gallagher and Patti Lupone (a cast album resulted).
Lori Steinberg (who helmed the national tour of Swing!) directs, with musical direction by Larry Goldberg. Myra Bazell (Chicago, Myths & Hymns) choreographs. Designers are Luke Cantarella (set), Mark Mariani (costumes), Michael Lincoln (lighting), Nick Courtides (sound).
Official opening is set for Nov. 9. Tickets range $25-$48. For information, call (215) 569-9700 or visit princemusictheater.org.
Following her gig in Pal Joey, Christine Andreas will open the Prince Music Theater's cabaret series, Upstairs at the Prince, in the Independence Foundation Black Box. She'll perform Here's to the Ladies, a tribute to the great divas of the musical theatre (recently released on CD from PS Classics), Nov. 29-Dec. 15.
— By Kenneth Jones