"Heart and Music": Finn Revue, Make Me a Song, Makes NYC Debut Oct. 30

By Kenneth Jones
30 Oct 2007

Sandy Binion in the CT production of Make Me a Song
Sandy Binion in the CT production of Make Me a Song
Photo by Lanny Nagler

The quirky, ruminative and hope-kissed songs of William Finn, the Tony Award-winning composer-lyricist of Falsettos, are presented in a new package in Manhattan starting Oct. 30.

Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn, conceived and directed by Rob Ruggiero, begins an Off-Broadway run following a popular 2006 presentation at TheaterWorks in Hartford, CT. Opening will be Nov. 12.

The show, now installed in New World Stages (Stage 5) on West 50th Street, is revised and refined since its Connecticut run. Ruggiero has one new cast member and a new pianist, for starters, but he's also revamped the Falsettos section of this catalog revue and added and subtracted musical numbers since 2006.

The musical — promising to "tell personal, haunting, and often hilarious tales from Finn's rich and touching human songbook" — is now a swift 90 minutes rather than two acts. In eliminating the intermission, the thinking was: why interrupt the neurotic energy of a unique voice?

New to the cast of four singer-actors is D.B. Bonds, who joins holdovers Sandy Binion, Adam Heller and Sally Wilfert.



The foursome (and singing pianist-musical director Darren R. Cohen) will bite into fan favorites, obscurities and trunk tunes. Michael Morris is music supervisor.

Finn is the two–time Tony Award winner for the groundbreaking musical Falsettos, and is currently represented on Broadway with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Make Me a Song features classics from these shows as well as selections from Romance in Hard Times, Elegies and the yet-to-be-produced The Royal Family.

Director Ruggiero is one of the minds behind the regional hit bio-musical, Ella, about Ella Fitzgerald.

Bonds, who played Freddy in the national tour of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, takes on the role created in Connecticut by Joe Cassidy, who is now in the cast of the Broadway-aimed musical A Tale of Two Cities, currently in playing a tryout in Sarasota, FL.

Binion appeared in Broadway's Jane Eyre; Wilfert has toured with Finn's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee; and Heller is a character man known for playing Charlie in the York Theatre Company's revival of Merrily We Roll Along as well as starring in Off-Broadway's The Immigrant, the Musical.

Make Me a Song is produced by Junkyard Dog Productions (Randy Adams, Sue Frost, Kenny Alhadeff), Larry Hirschhorn, Jayson Raitt, Stacey Mindich, Jamie deRoy/Eric Falkenstein.

The creative team includes Luke Hegel-Cantarella (set designer), Alejo Vietti (costume designer), John Lasiter (lighting designer) and Zach Williamson (sound designer).

*

Director Ruggiero has been the associate artistic director at TheaterWorks in Hartford for 13 years, and has directed over 30 productions there, including The Exonerated and the highly successful Ella (also co-conception) starring Tina Fabrique. His work has been seen at a number of other regional theatres including Pittsburgh Public Theater, Barrington Stage Company, and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, where he directed the critically acclaimed production of Take Me Out, which won four Kevin Kline Awards, including one for Best Director of a Play.

Performances of Make Me a Song will play Monday-Wednesday at 8 PM, Friday at 9 PM, Saturday at 5 PM and 9 PM, Sunday at 3 PM and 7 PM. Tickets range $26.50-$71.50. Tickets can be purchased by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200, or online at Telecharge.com, or in person at New World Stages at 340 W. 50th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

For more information, visit www.makemeasongthemusical.com.