Vanessa Williams and Charles S. "Roc" Dutton are among stars of a concert version of the Harold Arlen musical St. Louis Woman, being revived Apr. 30 to May 3 by the now-legendary series "Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert" at New York City Center.
Dutton, the stage and TV star (The Piano Lesson, "Roc")) will play Bigelow opposite Williams, a pop star and former Miss America, made a splash replacing Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman on Broadway, and went on to play another major Rivera role, Rosie, in the TV adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie.
Another beauty pageant winner (Miss New York), Helen Goldsby, plays Lila. She was also in Master Class. Also in the cast: Chuck Cooper who won a Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony for his Life role, which includes the song "My Way or the Highway"; L. Scott Caldwell (Proposals); Victor Trent Cook (Smokey Joe's Cafe) as Barney; Stanley Wayne Mathis (The Lion King); Yvette Cason (Play On!); Roger Robinson; and Wendell Pierce (as Mississippi Slim).
With music by Harold Arlen and book by Arna Bontemps and Countee Cullen, Woman will be a huge undertaking for the City Center team, which is reconstructing the score from an audio recording.
Back in January, musical director Rob Fisher told Playbill On-Line that St. Louis Woman was high on the list of shows to get the "Encores!" concert staging treatment, despite the effort and expense the choice would entail. Even with a score that includes "Riding on the Moon" and other Arlen classics, the original 1946 production ran just 113 performances. "Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert" launched its fifth season, Feb. 12-15, with George and Ira Gershwin's Strike Up the Band, followed Mar. 26-30 by a star-studded Li'l Abner. Look for next season to be announced in December.
For tickets and information on the Encores! series, call (212) 581-1212.
-- By David Lefkowitz