By Adam Hetrick
24 Jan 2013
Originally staged by Bob Fosse (Chicago, Pippin), Loesser's musical about Russian intrigue and romance was co-authored with Sam Spewack (based on his play Once There Was a Russian). It received chilly reviews when it premiered at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit in 1965. A subsequent Boston engagement and Broadway run were scuttled. It has not been staged since the ill-fated Detroit premiere.
Lyric Stage regularly produces Broadway classics with restored or full original Broadway orchestrations. Presented Jan. 24-27, Pleasures and Palaces features a 40-piece orchestra playing Philip J. Lang's original orchestrations. Ann Nieman directs and choreographs the 43-person cast. Jay Dias is musical director.
According to Lyric Stage, "In this comic look at actual historical events, American John Paul Jones enters into the court and service of Russian Empress Catherine the Great to fight the Turks and recapture Constantinople for Russia, and becomes involved in political intrigue and romantic complications. Catherine is in love with Grigori Alexandrovich Potemkin, who is enamored with the voluptuous Sura, who finds herself torn between Potemkin and Jones."
Lyric Stage also reveals what the rarely-heard score will sound like. "Lang's sparkling orchestrations feature the full spectrum of the orchestra, going from lush strings to jazzy brass and thundering percussion, to a solo Russian-themed mandolin, and even bongo drums. Based on Spewack's 1961 play Once There Was a Russian, the musical takes its title from the opening lyrics of the 1823 song 'Home, Sweet Home': 'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.'"
The cast includes Christopher Carl as Potemkin, Luann Aronson as Catherine the Great, Bryant Martin as John Paul Jones and Danielle Estes as Sura. The cast is completed by Brian Mathis, Christopher Curtis, James Williams, Ben Phillips, Randy Pearlman, Aaron Alarcon, Rebekah Ankrom, Chelsea Coyne, Vicki Dean, Peter di Cesare, Dayton Dobbs, Emily Ford, Anthony Fortino, Doug Fowler, Kevin Friemel, Clinton Greenspan, Martin Guerra, Doug Henry, Colleen LeBleu, Jessica Beth Lemmons, Laura Lites, Gerard Lucero, Morgan Mabry Mason, Susan Metzger, Mallory Michaellann, Delynda Johnson Moravec, Preston Pickett, Michael Pricer, Stephen Raikes, Jennifer Randolph, Neil Rogers, Daniel Saroni, Scott Sutton, Dana Taylor, Jay Taylor, Jessica Taylor, Vernicia Vernon, Jason Villarreal, Natasha Wells and Aaron C. White.
For tickets visit LyricStage.org.