Will Sondheim and Weidman Musical Bounce Into the Public?

By Andrew Gans
and Robert Simonson
June 15, 2007

The long-gestating Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical Bounce may finally play a New York theatre.



The New York Post reports that the Public Theater may present a full-scale production of the musical, which played Chicago and Washington, DC, in 2003 but failed to reach New York. Tony Award winner John Doyle, currently represented on Broadway with the Tony-winning revival of Company, would likely direct, although the production would not employ Doyle's actor-musician trademark staging.

Because Doyle will be busy this fall with the new John Bucchino-Harvey Fierstein musical A Catered Affair, the Public production would not begin until early 2008. Should the Public run succeed, a Broadway transfer is likely.

The Public's connection with Bounce began last year when a reading was presented at the downtown theatre (in February 2006). Eric Schaeffer (Putting It Together) directed that reading, which featured Richard Kind and two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters.

Kind was also part of the 2003 company and was generally praised for his portrayal of Addison Mizner, one of the scheming, early 20th century Mizner brothers. (He was nominated for a 2003 Joseph Jefferson Award.) Howard McGillin played the other sibling, Wilson, in the regional productions.

Bounce officially premiered at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, June 20-Aug. 10, 2003. It then traveled to the Kennedy Center Oct. 21. The intention was to bring the show to Broadway, but ultimately producer Roger Berlind decided not to move Bounce forward, making it that rare Sondheim show that didn't reach Gotham.

The show, however, was recorded Nov. 10-11, 2003, and the cast album released by Nonesuch on May 4, 2004. Orchestrations were by Jonathan Tunick, musical direction by David Caddick, and the recording was produced by Robert Hurwitz and Tommy Krasker.

Bounce is inspired by the lives of the colorful American capitalists cum-con artists, the Mizner brothers. John Weidman (Sondheim and Prince's collaborator on Pacific Overtures) wrote the libretto of the musical, which, prior to 2003, had been in earnest development for several years under different producers and in different versions and with different titles.

The Chicago and DC Bounce company of 19 actors, singers and dancers also featured Gavin Creel, Herndon Lackey, Michele Pawk and Jane Powell in the principal roles. Harold Prince directed, reuniting with Sondheim for the first time since the two men's multiple triumphs (Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd) during the 1970s.

Sam Mendes had staged a workshop of Bounce in 1999; at that time the musical was titled Wise Guys. Nathan Lane and Victor Garber co-starred in that presentation.