|Photo by Carol Rosegg|
Previews began April 19 at the American Airlines Theatre. Roundabout Theatre Company fast-tracked Everyday Rapture, starring Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Tony Award nominee Scott, to replace its recently scuttled Broadway production of Lips Together, Teeth Apart.
The limited engagement is scheduled through July 11 and is Roundabout's final show of the 2009-10 season.
Tony winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) directed Everyday Rapture in 2009, and returns to stage the production. This is the second music-infused Broadway show with Mayer at the helm this season; his American Idiot opened April 20.
Scott (also of Broadway's Aida and The Little Mermaid and Off-Broadway's The Last Five Years) starred in the scripted concept-concert-like show — in which she played a hyper-theatrical version of her own persona — at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre in spring 2009. Her earlier castmates Eamon Foley (13), Lindsay Mendez (Grease, The Marvelous Wonderettes) and Betsy Wolfe (110 in the Shade) join her on Broadway. (Riley Costello and Natalie Weiss are the understudies.)
The hard-to-define meta-theatrical show mixes pathos with absurd humor and draws from an eclectic pop songlist: Expect songs written by Fred Rogers (of "Mister Rogers Neighborhood"), Tim Rice & Elton John, David Byrne, Harry Nilsson, Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler, Charles Fox & Norman Gimbel, Johnny Mercer & Harry Warren, Gabriel Alexander Roth, Tom Waits, David Byrne and more.
[AUDIO-LEFT]The show tells of Scott's character (a Mennonite-raised Kansas native) finding a home in the theatre after a spiritual search marked by personal loss and existential questions.
It's characterized by Roundabout as "a young woman's psycho-sexual-spiritual journey on the rocky path that separates her mostly Mennonite past from her mostly Manhattan future." The show has been developed in benefits, concerts and rehearsals since 2006; at one time it was called You May Now Worship Me.
After the Second Stage run last year, Scanlan and Scott had a list of storytelling questions they wanted to address if and when the show took its next step. The step, it turns out, took a year.
Theatregoers digesting incidents in the loose show — Scanlan prefers "organic" to "loose" — might ask, "Did that really happen to Scott?" The collaborators have kept mostly mum about what's real and what's created about the "character" on stage.
"Once we've written it down as part of the play, it became distinct from Sherie's life, even if it's exactly what happened," Scanlan told Playbill.com in between recent rehearsals. "We're looking at it as a 'theatrical journey' as opposed to whatever it actually meant in Sherie's life. So Sherie and I sometimes have conversations about her life — and those are very personal, beautiful conversations — or we have conversations about our play. Some of the events might be the same, but the tenor of the conversation is very, very different.
"If you've ever taken a fiction workshop, a lot of times you'll be criticizing someone's story and saying, 'It just wasn't believable or it didn't move me,' and the person will use as a defense, 'Well, that's what really happened.' And, of course, my response is, 'I'm so not interested in what really happened, it's not moving me in its present form.' When we're working on this show…when we're focusing on whether a particular event was an event that happened or not…we're always asking ourselves, 'Is this the most compelling, humorous, surprising, truthful…way of communicating this event in a theatrical context?'"
The character in the spotlight is Sherie Rene, but how much essence of Dick Scanlan is in the show, and how much essence of Sherie Rene Scott?
Scanlan explained, "There's a lot of me in the fundamental issue [of the show], which is an extraordinary hunger to be self-expressive and to be celebrated for my self-expression; then a simultaneous feeling that the hunger is wrong, is bad. That somehow honoring my spirit will rob me of my soul. I have that exact same fear. I don't come from a Mennonite background but I have the same issues. And yes, there are a few incidents in the piece that happened in my life."
He added, "The ambivalence that the character is trying to reconcile through the journey of the play, that is completely an issue of Sherie's: The 'world was created for me' vs. 'I am a speck of dust' dilemma is Sherie's core dilemma."
The Everyday Rapture creative team includes choreographer Michele Lynch, orchestrator and arranger Tom Kitt (a Tony Award winner and Pulitzer Prize winner for Next to Normal), music supervisor Michael Rafter and music director Marco Paguia. The design team includes Christine Jones (sets), Tom Broecker (costumes), Kevin Adams (lights), Brian Ronan (sound) and Darrel Maloney (projections).
The Sh-K-Boom Records/Ghostlight cast album was released on iTunes, at sh-k-boom.com and at the American Airlines Theatre on April 27. The wide release will be in June. (It's now available at sh-k-boom.com.)
Here is the track list for the release:
2. "Got a Thing on My Mind"
4. "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe"
5. "Get Happy"
6. "You Made Me Love You"
7. "Mr. Rogers Medley (It's Such a Good Feeling, Everybody's Fancy, I Like to Be Told)"
8. "It's You I Like"
9. "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City"
10. "Life Line"
11. "The Weight"
12. "Rainbow Sleeves"
14. "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"
15. "Up the Ladder to the Roof"
17. "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)"
Scott — last seen on Broadway as Ursula in The Little Mermaid — is known for her work in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Aida and The Last Five Years. She has also appeared on stage in Landscape of the Body, Tommy, Rent, Debbie Does Dallas, Faust and Over and Over. With husband Kurt Deutsch, Scott co-founded Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records.
Co-author Scanlan was nominated for Tony and Drama Desk awards for his book and lyrics for the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Thoroughly Modern Millie. He is the author of the novel "Does Freddy Dance." In addition, he has published articles in Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, Playboy, Playbill, Time Out New York and other magazines. He wrote the lyrics to Jeanine Tesori's music for "The Girl in 14G" on Kristin Chenoweth's Sony CD, "Let Yourself Go." A former actor, he originated the role of Miss Great Plains in the hit Off-Broadway musical Pageant.
Mayer has directed the following productions at the Roundabout After the Fall (2004), An Almost Holy Picture (2002), Uncle Vanya (2000), The Lion In Winter (1999), A View From The Bridge (1997) and Side Man (1998).
For Everyday Rapture tickets, call (212) 719-1300 or visit www.roundabouttheatre.org or the American Airlines Box Office (227 West 42nd Street). To become a Roundabout subscriber visit www.roundabouttheatre.org. Ticket prices range from $66.50 to $116.50.
Everyday Rapture plays Tuesday through Saturday evening at 8 PM with Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 PM.
Visit everydayrapture.com or roundabouttheatre.org for more information.
Roundabout's revival of Terrence McNally's Lips Together, Teeth Apart was officially "postponed" on March 25, several days after star Megan Mullally quit the production. Lips Together was to officially open April 29 at the American Airlines Theatre, days before the cutoff date for eligibility for the 2009-10 Tony Awards. Previews were to begin April 9. Everyday Rapture now takes the opening night spot vacated by Lips.
Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes said in an April 1 statement, "Typically, our productions take anywhere from months to years to plan and execute; for example, we started planning for Lips Together, Teeth Apart three years ago. However, this unique situation has obviously condensed our preparation time drastically. Clearly we would not have committed to Everyday Rapture without making certain that it could be done on a schedule that was realistic for the entire creative team."
He added, "What happened with Lips Together, Teeth Apart is obviously a situation that I never anticipated, not to mention one that I've never encountered before in my career. So, I've had to trust my own instincts and the recommendations of the great team we have here at Roundabout to find the right fit for this particular circumstance."