No Way to Treat A Lady first bowed Off-Broadway at the Hudson Guild Theatre in 1987 and was later revived in 1996 by the York Theatre Company. After staged-reading presentations at the York last year, Fred Ebb Award-winning theatre writer Cohen, who penned the book, music and lyrics for No Way to Treat a Lady, has revisited the dark comedy about an actor-turned-killer. The latest incarnation of the musical runs through Jan. 30 in Arizona under the direction of Richard Roland.
The musical's original opening number, "I Need a Life," which had been cut from the York readings, has been reinstated for the Phoenix run, but now comes later in the musical. "[It] revealed too many factors, thus destroying some of the musical's mystery," Cohen told Playbill.com about the choice to initially drop the song.
He added, "This change gave the piece tremendous edge, which was quite thrilling. However, I regretted losing that original opening number as it really defined Detective Morris Brummell's character and established him as the protagonist." Repositioning the song allows Cohen and Roland to maintain an air of mystery in the musical.
Cohen, who was in Phoenix for part of the rehearsal period, has also revisited scenes later in the first act, which will "galvanize the audience" and provide further development into the psyche of the killer.
Roland added, "After a few minutes of talking with Doug, I knew this was going to be an exciting project. Not many musicals seem to get reexamined by their authors, and I was thrilled to be brought in to work on it." No Way to Treat a Lady features Jenn Taber (Sarah), Rusty Ferracane (Kit), Lisa Fogel (Flora, Mrs. Sullivan, Carmella, Alexandra) and Christopher Williams (Morris).
Here's how the work is billed: "The show tells the story of a publicity-crazed actor turned killer and the charming detective who pursues him. The killer adopts multiple disguises including a tango instructor, French waiter, female barfly and priest to trick the detective in this cat and mouse game. This exciting musical is presented in film noir style with the audience in on the crime, watching the pieces of the puzzle slowly come together as case unravels."
Cohen penned the score to the Broadway-aimed musical The Big Time, which features a book by Tony Award nominee Douglas Carter Beane (Xanadu, The Little Dog Laughed). He earned two Richard Rodgers Awards and the Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Theatre Foundation Award for writing book, music and lyrics to No Way to Treat a Lady and was awarded the York Theater Company's inaugural Noël Coward Prize as a "triple threat" writer for book, music and lyrics to The Gig.
Cohen is the recipient of a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Lyrics to Children's Letters to God and penned original songs for the Les Freres Corbusier production of Boozy, directed by Alex Timbers.
His musicals also include Nine Wives (penned with 13 librettist Dan Elish); Barnstormer (with book/lyrics by Cheryl L. Davis); he is the composer/lyricist and co-librettist of The Opposite of Sex. He recently completed his first play Lovely Send Anywhere and is at work on a musical adaptation of the Frank D. Gilroy novel "From Noon Till Three."
For tickets, priced $25, phone (602) 254-2151 or visit PhoenixTheatre. The Phoenix Theatre is located at 100 East McDowell Road, in Phoenix, AZ.