By Robert Simonson
14 Dec 2000
Susan H. Schulman (Violet, The Sound of Music, The Secret Garden) directs Time and Again and Kevin Stites (Titanic, On the Town) musical-directs, drawing on their experience helming the May 1999 workshop of the tuner by composer-lyricist Walter Edgar (Skip) Kennon and librettist Jack Viertel. Rob Ashford choreographs (Kathleen Marshall choreographed the workshop).
The show is based on the popular romantic science-fiction novel by Jack Finney about a modern New Yorker who is transported back in time at the request of Dr. Danziger, who heads a secret government science project.
Rehearsals began Dec. 4 in Manhattan. Lewis Cleale plays time traveler Si Morley, Julia Murney (A Class Act, The Wild Party) is Kate, his modern-day love interest and Laura Benanti (Swing!) is Julia, his 19th-century romantic interest. David McCallum will play the mysterious Dr. Danziger.
The version bowing in previews Jan. 9 is a 15-actor chamber-style production that would likely be expanded if the attached commercial producers choose to transfer the show to Broadway, according to industry sources. Broadway has been the goal of the show for several years; a separate staging was previously mounted in 1996 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.
A spring 2000 Broadway production date had been eyed for Time and Again, but that never materialized. The May 1999 workshop was presented by Steven Baruch, Thomas Viertel, Richard Frankel, Marc Routh, Dede Harris/Jeslo Productions, Metropolitan Entertainment Group, Nederlander Organization, Liz Oliver and Anne Strickland Squadron.
Songwriter Skip Kennon, who wrote Herringbone with lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh, is the former artistic coordinator of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Observers of the Time and Again workshop and those who know the demo recording that has circulated through the industry regard the piece as faithful to the tone of the novel (which is so popular it's still in print after 30 years) and rich with humanity and melody. It's generally considered one of the strongest unproduced scores of recent years.
Songs in the show's workshop included "At the Theatre," "Who Would Have Thought It?," "She Dies," "The Lady in the Harbor," "Who Are You Anyway?" "Si's Soliloquy," "For Those You Love," "The Music Of Love," "Time and Time Again," "The Right Look," "I Know This House" and more. Some tweaks and revisions have been made since the 1999 workshop.
It was producers Thomas Viertel, Steven Baruch and Richard Frankel who initiated the project, about escaping into the romance and intrigue of a seemingly simpler, better New York City.
The late Jack Finney's 1970 novel — a genuine pop classic — includes prosaic, detailed descriptions of New York City life at the end of the 19th and 20th centuries. "From Time to Time" was a sequel that used the same characters. His best known work might be "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
MTC's Stage II has been fertile soil lately: Charles Busch's The Tale of the Allergist's Wife made its debut there in 1999-2000 and moved to Broadway, and the current A Class Act (to Dec. 10) will move to Broadway in spring 2001.
To see Playbill On-Line's Brief Encounter with David McCallum, which ran in August 2000, click here.