The former Titanic star and coveted leading man has been cast as time-traveling hero Si Morley in the five-week workshop of the musical, Time and Again, beginning April 19.
Composer-lyricist Skip Kennon's musical version of the popular Jack Finney novel, "Time and Again," has been in development for several years -- including a production at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The April-May rehearsals in New York City leading to mid-May readings are the hoped-for next steps toward a Broadway production.
Charismatic tenor James played Frederick Barrett in Titanic, has performed in Carousel and Les Miserables and is often seen in readings, concerts and cabarets (singing some of his own songs), including York Theatre's scaled-back 1998 revival of the flop musical, Kelly. He now plays illustrator Si Morley, who travels back to 1882 as part of a government project.
Among James' co-stars in the Time and Again workshop are Laura Benanti as Julia, William Parry as Pickering, Julia Murney as Kate, Kay Walbye as Aunt Evie, Lauren Ward as Emily and Joseph Kolinski as the Trolley Man.
Benanti, who is not yet 21, is the current Maria in The Sound of Music, and is the daughter of actor Martin Vidnovic, seen in Baby, 1979's Oklahoma! and A Grand Night for Singing..
Susan H. Schulman directs, Kathleen Marshall is choreographer, book is by Jack Viertel, music and lyrics by Walter Edgar (Skip) Kennon. Musical director is Kevin Stites (On the Town, Titanic, Sunset Boulevard).
Among the Time and Again producers are 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 five weeks of rehearsals will culminate in several readings in late May.
Jack O'Brien directed and Kathleen Marshall choreographed the 1996 San Diego production, which starred Rebecca Luker and Howard McGillin.
Kennon, who wrote Herringbone with lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh, is artistic coordinator of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. He was recently attached to the in-development musical, Don Juan DeMarco.