Producers Want to Move Encores! Finian's Rainbow to Broadway

By Adam Hetrick
02 Apr 2009

Kate Baldwin
Kate Baldwin

An expanded version of the City Center Encores! concert of Finian's Rainbow the 1947 musical comedy satire by Burton Lane, Fred Saidy and E.Y. Harburg will transfer to Broadway's St. James Theatre this fall.

David Richenthal and Jack Viertel said they will produce the Broadway transfer of the musical that concluded its critically-praised four-day Encores! run March 29. The producers stated on April 2 that Finian's Rainbow will arrive on Broadway after Labor Day.

The Encores! concert presentation will be expanded for a full production, again under the direction of Warren Carlyle (A Tale of Two Cities), who also choreographs. Rob Berman will repeat his duties as musical director for the Broadway run of Finian's Rainbow.

No casting has been announced, but producers are hoping to reunite as much of the Encores! cast and creative team as possible. "The show at City Center wove a spell and played to cheering audiences, and our intention is to hold on to that magic," Richenthal said in a statement. Viertel added, "Broadway seems ready to embrace a show that radiates hope and humor, especially one with as many great songs at Finian's Rainbow."

The leading cast of the Encores! engagement featured Jim Norton (Finian), Kate Baldwin (Sharon), Cheyenne Jackson (Woody), Jeremy Bobb (Og), Philip Bosco (Senator Rawkins), Guy Davis (Sonny), Alina Faye (Susan Mahoney), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Billboard), Andy Weems (Sheriff) and William Youmans (Buzz).



Kate Baldwin and Cheyenne Jackson
photo by Joan Marcus
The reviews named Baldwin a breakout find. Her credits include Broadway's Wonderful Town, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Huntington Theatre Company's She Loves Me (also at Williamstown) and Arena Stage's South Pacific (for which she earned a Helen Hayes nomination), among other credits.

Finian's Rainbow has music by Burton Lane, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg and a book by Harburg and Fred Saidy. The musical, according to Encores! notes, tells "the story of the Irishman Finian McLonergan (Jim Norton), and his daughter Sharon (Kate Baldwin) who travel to a small Southern town in the mythical state of Missitucky with plans to bury a stolen pot of gold in the shadows of Fort Knox, in the mistaken belief it will grow and multiply. They have been followed from Ireland by the owner of the gold, a leprechaun, who shows up determined to recover his treasure. The musical is unusual in that it deals in a satirical way with issues of class and race, most specifically in the character of a bigoted Southern senator who is accidentally turned black."

The score boasts such tunes as "Look to the Rainbow," "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?," "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love (I Love the Girl I'm Near)," "Old Devil Moon" and "If This Isn't Love."

The original production of Finian's Rainbow opened at the 46th Street Theatre on Jan. 10, 1947, and played 725 performances. Michael Kidd won a Tony Award for Best Choreography.