Hoff Is Broadway's New Pal Joey, With Stockard Channing and Martha Plimpton, at Studio 54

By Kenneth Jones
19 Jun 2008

Stockard Channing, Christian Hoff and Martha Plimpton
Stockard Channing, Christian Hoff and Martha Plimpton
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Christian Hoff, the Tony Award winner for playing the charismatic and tough Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys, will be Pal Joey for Roundabout Theatre Company this fall. He'll bewitch and bother Oscar nominee Stockard Channing as cougar Vera Simpson in the revised version of the groundbreaking 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical.

Tony Award nominee Martha Plimpton (Top Girls) will play Gladys Bumps, a role that has been reinvented in a new script revision by Tony Award winner Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out, Three Days of Rain). Richard Rodgers wrote the music; Lorenz Hart wrote the lyrics. John O'Hara penned the original libretto, based on his short stories that ran in the New Yorker.

Performances under the direction of two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Assassins, Take Me Out) begin Nov. 14 toward a Dec. 11 opening at Studio 54.

Additional cast members will be announced shortly.



The musical was groundbreaking for being a kind of musical character study — uniquely focusing on a selfish heel. According to Roundabout, "Set in Chicago in the late 1930s, Pal Joey is the story of Joey Evans, a brash, scheming song and dance man with dreams of owning his own nightclub. Joey abandons his wholesome girlfriend Linda English, to charm a rich, married older woman, Vera Simpson, in the hope that she'll set him up in business."

Gene Kelly was Joey in 1940 and Vivienne Segal was Vera, introducing "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." Joey got the choice numbers "I Could Write a Book" and (with Vera) "In Our Little Den of Iniquity." A song for Joey that was cut from the show before Broadway, "I'm Talking to My Pal," will be restored to the score for this new production; it deepens the character and offers a window into his profoundly lonely life. Additionally, for this production, Greenberg has reinvented some characters, and some songs from the score have been reassigned. Plimpton's Gladys Bumps character is expected to sing the specialty song, "Zip."

Music direction is by Paul Gemignani; choreography is by Tony nominee Graciela Daniele (Once on This Island, Ragtime). The Roundabout production is presented in association with producer Marc Platt (Wicked, Three Days of Rain).

The design team will include two-time Tony Award winner Scott Pask (sets), five-time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long (costumes), two-time Tony Award winner Peggy Eisenhauer and eight-time Tony Award winner Jules Fisher (lights), Tony Meola (sound) and Don Sebesky (orchestrator).

Channing won a Tony Award for her performance in Roundabout Theatre Company's Joe Egg in 1985, and also received Tony nominations for her acclaimed performances in The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, Four Baboons Adoring the Sun and Roundabout Theatre Company's The Lion in Winter. In 2002 she won two Emmy Awards, one for her role as First Lady Abbey Bartlet in NBC's "The West Wing" and the other for her performance as Judy Shepard in "The Matthew Shepard Story." She was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe when she re-created her role in the film "Six Degrees…" She was Rizzo in the film "Grease."

Christian Hoff won a 2006 Best Featured Actor in a Musical Tony for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys. He was also an original cast member of The Who's Tommy. Plimpton is a two-time Tony Award nominee for her recent performances in Top Girls and The Coast of Utopia.

This is the first Broadway revival of Pal Joey in more than 30 years. A 1952 Broadway revival of Pal Joey (with Harold Lang) was a bigger hit than its original 1940 production. A 1957 film version starred Frank Sinatra. A 1963 revival starred Bob Fosse, who was Tony-nominated for starring as Joey. A 1976 Broadway staging starred Dixie Carter, Joan Copeland and Christopher Chadman. The show was featured in the second season of Encores! at New York City Center in a 1995 concert version starring Patti LuPone and Peter Gallagher.

Tickets will be available in fall 2008 by phone at (212) 719-1300, online at www.roundabouttheatre.org or at the Studio 54 box office at 254 W. 54th Street.

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Lead support for Pal Joey is provided by Roundabout's Musical Theatre Production Fund partners Perry and Marty Granoff, The Kaplen Foundation, John and Gilda McGarry, Tom and Diane Tuft.