DREAM AND OTHER DREAMS
That Johnny Mercer songfest with Lesley Ann Warren, John Pizzarelli and Margaret Whiting isn't the only Dream in town, y'know. Consider what's riding on three other new Broadway musicals.
Frank Wildhorn's dream of becoming a Broadway composer with a complete score of his own is of a slightly shorter duration--only 17 years--but it becomes a reality four days after Harrison's when Jekyll & Hyde opens during the last Tony-qualifying week in April. (Wildhorn also has two songs in Victor/Victoria: "Trust Me" and "Living in the Shadows.") Already he has his next show booked--The Scarlet Pimpernel Nov. 2 at the Minskoff (starring, quite possibly, Me and My Girl Tony winner Robert Lindsay)--and a third show, The Civil War: An American Musical, is in the throes of a concept-album, due in October with 25 different artists working over the score (among them: Betty Buckley, Kenny Rogers, Dr. John, et al). Wildhorn's Jekyll and Hyde, Robert Cuccioli, came out of The (last, Off-Broadway batch of) Rothschilds and paid his Main Stem dues as Javert and the Phantom: "If it's Gothic, if the guy dies, if he's angst-ridden--that's me. I do those." [Remember, Bob: Fredric March and Spencer Tracy started that way.]
Exactly 20 years ago, producer Roger Berlind set Gregory Harrison on the road to Broadway stardom in something called Festival, which fizzled and failed on the road. Paper Moon got him as close as Milburn, NJ (the Paper Mill Playhouse), but now, this month, he finally arrives--as Steel Pier's dance marathon emcee--and again (if ironically) Berlind is the moneybags behind the show. Harrison admits he'd have gotten here sooner had some high-profile fame not thrown him off musical-comedy course: "Brian Mitchell and I both got cast in [TV's] 'Trapper John' out of Festival, and we sat on the set for seven or eight years, saying 'Wouldn't it be great if one day we both could end up on Broadway?' My dream is finally coming true, and Brian gets here in December--in Ragtime."
Also new to The New Musicals Club is Play On! which translates Shakespeare's Twelfth Night into Ellingtonese and lets 1940s Harlem denizens like Yvette Cason, Andre De Shields, Cheryl Freeman, Larry Marshall, et al Duke it out.