Librettist John L. Haber remains "guardedly optimistic" that his magnum opus to date, the musical comedy Lone Star Love, will make it to Broadway this season, though he acknowledged Jan. 10 that "things would have to happen pretty quickly to get the show up by the first of May" (i.e., in time for the Tony eligibility cutoff). Granting that Lone Star is "a little more likely for early fall versus spring," Haber says the project is definitely moving forward, with meetings being held this week regarding the budget and other production elements. "We've been a little bit on hold because of the holiday season," Haber added, "but we're in discussions with the Shuberts for a theatre."
Asked if the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks slowed the process down, Haber replied, "It wasn't a direct factor with us, but there's a domino effect just on the season. People are uncertain, and it's still an unstable climate. But [Lone Star Love] went very well at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival in Cleveland, and I'm guardedly optimistic that the show is going to come in."
A production spokesperson for the show at the Boneau/Bryan-Brown office told Playbill On-Line (Jan. 10) that plans for the show are likely to be firmed up by the end of next week.
If Lone Star Love happens this Broadway season, it will likely come directly to New York. If fall 2002 becomes the target, Haber allows that the producers wouldn't turn up another good out-of-town, though, he says, "the show's in very good shape and not really in need of further try-outs. Before Cleveland, we needed a step like that, but a great deal of good work was done on the show there, and the physical production is well along." The show's designers are The Women's Derek McLane (set), Jane Greenwood (costumes) and Tom Morse (sound). It's likely that the vast majority of the Cleveland cast — which included Jay O. Sanders as Falstaff, Sara Gettelfinger as Mrs. Ford and Allison Briner as Mrs. Page — will come to New York, but there's no definitive casting at this point.
Lone Star Love, conceived and adapted by Haber, with music and lyrics by Tony winner (and Red Clay Rambers alumnus) Jack Herrick (Fool Moon, Kudzu), takes William Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor and sets it in post-Civil War Texas. There, ex-Confederate colonel John Falstaff and his merry men charm their way into the lives of two wealthy rancher's wives. In a romantic subplot, one of the rancher's daughters is being pursued by several suitors including a yodeling cowboy named Fenton. The production has contributions from Bland Simpson, Tommy Thompson and director Michael Bogdanov, who has been with the project since helming two developmental NYC workshops — backed by the Dodgers and the Kennedy Center — in 1996 and 1999. Prior to that, Lone Star Love started at the Alley Theatre in Houston in 1988, followed by a regional staging in 1989 at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Then Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park staged the tuner in 1994. An Old Globe staging nearly happened in early fall, around the time of the Cleveland production, but since it would have required an entirely different set (and one that wouldn't work for a Broadway incarnation of the show), that mounting was amicably scuttled.
"I've been working on this musical for 13 years," librettist Haber recently told Playbill On-Line. And what exactly is Lone Star Love? "It's a cowboy Western, with music not normally what you hear on Broadway," Haber told PBOL in 2000. "Very eclectic, with a vast array of American sounds." That won't surprise people familiar with The Red Clay Ramblers, the show's musicians -- themselves best known for backing Bill Irwin and David Shiner's mime antics in Fool Moon.
— By David Lefkowitz