Mara Davi Is Nanette for City Center Encores! Beginning May 8

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08 May 2008

Rosie O'Donnell and Mara Davi, Sandy Duncan and Charles Kimbrough, and Michael Berresse with Beth Leavel.
Rosie O'Donnell and Mara Davi, Sandy Duncan and Charles Kimbrough, and Michael Berresse with Beth Leavel.
Photo by Joan Marcus
A starry cast — including Emmy Award winner Rosie O'Donnell and Tony winner Beth Leavel — has been assembled for the final City Center Encores! production of the season, No, No, Nanette, which begins performances May 8.

Directed by former Encores! artistic director Walter Bobbie, Nanette boasts O'Donnell as Pauline, Leavel as Lucille Early, Mara Davi as Nanette, Sandy Duncan as Sue Smith, Shonn Wiley as Tom, Charles Kimbrough as Jimmy Smith, Michael Berresse as Billy Early, Angel Reda as Flora Latham, Jennifer Cody as Betty Brown and Nancy Anderson as Winnie Winslow.

The ensemble comprises David Baum, Brandon Davidson, Leah Edwards, Sara Edwards, Zak Edwards, Mary Giattino, Luke Hawkins, Matthew J. Kilgore, Cara Kjellman, Todd Lattimore, Deborah Lew, Ryan Malyar, Brent McBeth, Alessa Neeck, Carolann M. Sanita, Kiira Schmidt, Chad Seib, Kelly Sheehan, Anna Aimee White and Jacob Ben Widmar.

Randy Skinner choreographs the production with musical direction by Rob Fisher.

This mounting of Nanette utilizes the 1971 version of the musical. That production featured a book adapted by Burt Shevelove with the original Vincent Youmans (music) and Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach (lyrics) score. The show features such tunes as "Tea for Two" and "I Want to Be Happy."

No, No, Nanette is based on Frank Mandel and Emily Nyitray's comedy My Lady Friends. The musical, according to press notes, is a "light-hearted tale of millionaires, misunderstood wives, bathing beauties, wanton women and flappers. Nanette (Mara Davi), a young Manhattan heiress, tries to experience life by running away to the big, bad and bawdy town of Atlantic City, only to be followed by her straight-laced, tap-dancing fiancé (Shonn Wiley), her cook/chaperone (Rosie O'Donnell), her lawyer and his wife (Beth Leavel) and her legal guardians (Sandy Duncan and Charles Kimbrough), who just want everyone to 'be happy.'"

Mara Davi originated the role of Maggie in the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line and later starred as Janet van de Graaff in the Broadway production of The Drowsy Chaperone. She was recently seen in the new musical Dancing in the Dark and will star in the upcoming Encores! staging of No, No Nanette.

Rosie O'Donnell was most recently on Broadway in the revival of Fiddler on the Roof. The actress made her Broadway debut as Rizzo in the 1994 revival of Grease!, and she played a limited engagement as the Cat in the Hat in the Ahrens-Flaherty musical Seussical. The performer also spent some time on the other side of the footlights as producer of the Broadway version of Boy George's Taboo. O'Donnell rose to fame as a stand-up comic before landing roles in such films as "A League of Their Own," "Sleepless in Seattle," "The Flintsones" and "Exit to Eden." Her Emmy-winning talk show, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," ran from 1996 to 2001, and her more recent TV credits include appearances on "Will & Grace" and "Queer as Folk" as well as the made-for-television movie "Riding the Bus with My Sister." O'Donnell is married to Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell; the couple have four children. O'Donnell's autobiography is titled "Find Me"; her newest book is "Celebrity Detox."

Beth Leavel, recently seen in the world premiere of Dancing in the Dark, received Tony and Drama Desk awards for her performance in the title role of The Drowsy Chaperone. Her other Broadway credits include 42nd Street, Crazy for You, Show Boat and The Civil War. Leavel's Off-Broadway credits include Lone Star Love, The Jazz Singer and An Unfinished Song. She has also been seen in regional productions of Annie, A Little Night Music and Mame.

Show times are May 8 at 8 PM, May 9 at 8 PM, May 10 at 2 and 8 PM, May 11 at 6:30 PM and a gala performance May 12 at 7 PM.

City Center is located in Manhattan at West 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Tickets are available by calling (212) 581-1212 or by visiting