Will Amour Be Lovelier the Second Time Around? Griffin Will Stage Reconception for Goodspeed

News   Will Amour Be Lovelier the Second Time Around? Griffin Will Stage Reconception for Goodspeed Director Gary Griffin, a fixture in the Chicago theatre community who has changed time zones occasionally to direct in New York City and London, will stage Goodspeed Musicals' summer revival of Michel Legrand and Jeremy Sams' Amour.

The production will be "reconceived" since it played Broadway in 2002, where it folded quickly but earned Tony Award nominations and a cult following after its cast album was released.

Goodspeed presents the sung-through Parisian fairy tale Aug. 4-28 at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT, as part of its developmental season there. Critics are not invited to the venue, as it's considered an incubator for still-forming shows.

Academy Award-winner Legrand is the French composer with a penchant for jazz waltzes. He is known for his haunting melodies from the film scores for "Summer of '42," "The Thomas Crown Affair," "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," "The Young Girls of Rochefort." Among the standouts in the Amour score was the sweet lament, "Other People's Stories," sung by a lonely wife in Paris.

Set in 1950s Paris, Amour concerns an unassuming civil servant who finds he has the uncanny ability to walk through walls. "With this magical discovery, he finally summons the courage to confess his feelings to his beautiful love-from-afar," according to Goodspeed. "Meanwhile, her husband has different plans for him. But how do you lock up a man who can simply slip away? A whimsical tale to buoy your spirits. A completely musical love story!"

Goodspeed's reconceived production — it's expected to retain nine actors but be scaled back, physically — has music by Michel Legrand, French libretto by Didier van Cauwelaert and English lyrics by Jeremy Sams. The musical was adapted from Le Passe-Muraille by Marcel Aymé. Associate artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Griffin recently directed the small-cast, two-piano co-production of My Fair Lady at Hartford Stage.

Griffin is currently working on the Broadway-aimed musical, The Color Purple, scheduled to open in spring 2005. Griffin received Joseph Jefferson Awards for his productions of The Sum of Us, Stand Up Tragedy, Assassins, Putting It Together, Pacific Overtures, A Little Night Music. His Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of Pacific Overtures was remounted for Donmar Warehouse in London and won the Olivier Award for Best Musical Production (and he was nominated for Best Director).

In Manhattan, he staged Beautiful Thing Off-Broadway, and the Encores! productions of The New Moon and Pardon My English. His next Encores! projects are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Apple Tree.

Born in Nice, France, van Cauwelaert has written 12 novels. He also writes for film, television and cartoons. He has written two other musicals with Michel Legrand — Dreyfus and L'Amour Fantome.

Sams wrote the book to the London hit, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, coming to Broadway this spring. His recent translations include Becket, The Rehearsal, The Miser, Mary Stuart, Les Parents Terribles (on Broadway as Indiscretions) and A Fool and His Money.

He most recently directed the London/Broadway revival of Noises Off.

The 2002-03 Broadway staging of Amour, produced by The Shubert Organization, Jean Doumanian Productions, Inc., and USA Ostar Theatricals, starred Malcolm Gets, Melissa Errico, Lewis Cleale, Christopher Fitzgerald, Sarah Litzsinger, Nora May Lyng, Bill Nolte and John Cunningham. The company members doubled and tripled in roles to create a sense of a large Parisian community, from newsboy to whore to office worker to painter, and more.

James Lapine directed. Orchestrations were by Legrand. Scott Pask designed the whimsical set.

The intermisionless confection ran 90 minutes and was later nominated for 2003 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Gets), Actress in a Musical (Errico), Best Book of a Musical (Sams, van Cauwelaert), Best Score (Legrand, Sams, van Cauwelaert).

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Goodspeed Musicals "is dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, producing six musicals each season at the historic Goodspeed Opera House and The Norma Terris Theatre, opened in Chester, CT., in 1984 for the development of new musicals. In addition to its onstage productions, Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in the Musical Theater."

Visit www.goodspeed.org.

Melissa Errico and Malcolm Gets in the original Broadway production of <i>Amour</i>
Melissa Errico and Malcolm Gets in the original Broadway production of Amour
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