Norton, Jackson and Baldwin Look to the Rainbow, Beginning Oct. 8 on Broadway

By Andrew Gans
October 8, 2009

The critically acclaimed City Center Encores! concert production of Finian's Rainbow, now revised and expanded into a full theatrical production, arrives at the St. James Theatre Oct. 8. The production will officially open on Broadway Oct. 29.

About the Broadway staging of the classic musical, director-choreographer Warren Carlyle said in a recent statement, "This new Broadway production is a total re-imagining of every design element [of the Encores! run]. The entire creative team, including Tony Award winning designers John Lee Beatty, Ken Billington, and Scott Lehrer, has worked tirelessly to bring a fully realized production of Finian's Rainbow to Broadway. One major difference between the Encores! concert staging and this new Broadway show is that the full orchestra will now be placed in the pit, providing me with more opportunities to fully choreograph sequences and expand the world of Rainbow Valley. Unlike the Encores! concert series this production allows for the design of nearly two hundred costume pieces by acclaimed designer, Toni-Leslie James. We have also incorporated numerous moments of magic with the help of magic consultant, Matthew Holtzclaw. . . .With all of these additions and enhancements come an opportunity for me to present audiences with a fully realized and completely magical evening in the theatre."

The cast is headed by Wonderful Town's Kate Baldwin as Sharon McLonergan, Xanadu's Cheyenne Jackson as Woody Mahoney, The Seafarer Tony winner Jim Norton as Finian McLonergan, Young Frankenstein Tony nominee Christopher Fitzgerald as the leprechaun Og and Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper (The Life) as Bill Rawkins with Guy Davis (Sunny), Alina Faye (Susan Mahoney), Brian Reddy (Sheriff), David Schramm (Senator Rawkins), Terri White (Dottie) and William Youmans (Buzz Collins).

The ensemble comprises Aaron Bantum, Tanya Birl, Christopher Borger, Meggie Cansler, Bernard Dotson, Leslie Donna Flesner, Sara Jean Ford, Taylor Frey, Lisa Gajda, Kearran Giovanni, Tim Hartman, Lauren Lim Jackson, Grasan Kingsberry, Kevin Ligon, Monica L. Patton, Joe Aaron Reid, Steve Schepis, Devin Richards, Rashidra Scott, Brian Sears, Paige Simunovich, James Stovall, Elisa van Duyne and Tyrick Wiltez Jones.

Finian's Rainbow has a book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy; lyrics by E.Y. Harburg; music by Burton Lane; with new book adaptation by Arthur Perlman and original adaptation for New York City Center Encores! by David Ives. The musical, according to production notes, "tells the story of the Irishman Finian McLonergan and his daughter Sharon who travel to a small Southern town in the mythical state of Missitucky with plans to bury a stolen pot of gold in the shadows of Fort Knox, in the mistaken belief it will grow and multiply. They have been followed from Ireland by the owner of the gold, a leprechaun, who shows up determined to recover his treasure."

This new production features scenic design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Ken Billington, sound design by Scott Lehrer, hair/wig/make-up design by Wendy Parson and music supervision and vocal arrangements by Rob Berman.

The score boasts such tunes as "Look to the Rainbow," "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?," "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love (I Love the Girl I'm Near)," "Old Devil Moon" and "If This Isn't Love."

The original production of Finian's Rainbow opened at the 46th Street Theatre on Jan. 10, 1947, and played 725 performances. Michael Kidd won a Tony Award for Best Choreography.

The Encores! run, starring Norton, Baldwin and Jackson, played City Center March 26-29.

Tickets are $35-$75 in previews and $50-$120 post-opening. There are also special post-opening Wednesday evening prices as low as $25. Tickets may be purchased by visiting www.telecharge.com or by phoning (212) 239-6200.

St. James Theatre is located at 246 West 44th Street.

For more information visit www.FiniansOnBroadway.com.