Wildhorn and Knighton's Camille Claudel, the Musical, Ends Sept. 7 at Goodspeed

By Kenneth Jones
07 Sep 2003

Camille Claudel, the new Frank Wildhorn-Nan Knighton musical about the tortured artist and lover of Auguste Rodin, ends its developmental run at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut Sept. 7.



Taking advantage of the workshoop atmosphere of the developmental Goodspeed venue, the sold-out show went through some tweaks and changes in its closed-to-critics run that started Aug. 14. It is aimed at Broadway, but there is no announced timetable for plan for the show as of yet. The 2003-04 Broadway season had been previously mentioned.

Linda Eder — composer Wildhorn's wife — starred in the title role.

The company includes Matt Bogart (Miss Saigon) as Camille's brother, Paul; Rita Gardner (replacing Joan Copeland) as Madame Claudel; Michael Nouri (Victor/Victoria) as Rodin; Milo O'Shea (Mass Appeal) as Monsieur Claudel, with John Paul Almon, Timothy W. Bish, Nick Cavarra, Margaret Ann Gates, Natalie Hill, Mayumi Miguel, Tracy Miller, Tricia Paoluccio, Darren Ritchie and Shonn Wiley.

Gabriel Barre, one of the busiest directors on the East Coast at the moment, directs, with choreography by his Off-Broadway Wild Party choreographer Mark Dendy.

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Composer Wildhorn and lyricist-librettist Knighton previously collaborated on The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Eder's musical director since 1987, Jeremy Roberts, conducts Camille Claudel, with orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. Walt Spangler (Broadway's Hollywood Arms) is scenic designer, Constance Hoffman is costume designer, Howell Binkley is lighting designer and sound is by Mark Menard.

"A woman who broke all the rules, Camille Claudel found her passion for sculpting in the late 1800s, with Auguste Rodin as her mentor," according to the Goodspeed announcement. "With humor and a boundless zest for life, Claudel enchanted Rodin to become his mistress and muse, turning what began as pure love into a stormy journey to discover where the line between lover and competitor is drawn."

Eder, the belter some compare to Streisand, made her Broadway debut as Lucy in Jekyll & Hyde. For her work, she earned the Theatre World Award for Best Broadway Debut as well as the Drama Desk and Outer Critics' Circle Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical. She has recorded seven solo records and plays concerts around the country.

Nan Knighton received a 1998 Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical for The Scarlet Pimpernel. She also wrote the stage adaptation for Robert Stigwood's Saturday Night Fever.

Isabelle Adjani played the artist in a 1988 French film, "Camille Claudel."

The artist is also the subject of another musical being developed by Connecticut composer-lyricist-librettist Lori McKelvey, who won the 2002 Kleban Award for her libretto to Camila, seen at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre in fall 2001. Her version is called M. Claudel.

Wildhorn's plate is full: The Hartford Courant reported that among his planned musical projects are Dracula (as previously reported here), Scott and Zelda (with Ann Reinking), Cyrano, which he is writing with Jekyll & Hyde lyricist Leslie Bricusse, and Vienna, a show about Austrian Crown Prince Rudolph, with Knighton.

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Opened in 1984, the Terris is a place where paying audiences see full productions of works in progress. The creative team usually stays in residence, tweaking and changing a show when possible or necessary. Critics are not invited, and stay away in an unusual gentlemen's agreement.

Two of the three Terris shows this season (including Stand By Your Man) are directed by Barre, who helmed Goodspeed's Summer of 42, King of Hearts, Sweeney Todd, Finian's Rainbow, Houdini, Dorian, Fanny Hill and Honky-Tonk Highway.

For information, visit www.goodspeed.org.

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On Goodspeed's mainstage, at the historic Goodspeed Opera House, is a revival of Jerome Kern's Very Good Eddie, through October.