A Tale of Two Cities Returns as PBS Concert, DVD and CD; Barbour, Burkhardt, Toro, Earley Are Back
By Kenneth Jones
A concert staging of the Broadway musical A Tale of Two Cities, filmed in England last June, will appear on PBS in the coming weeks, to be followed by a DVD and cast album release.
The concert staging was filmed in June 2009 at Theater Royal, Brighton, England. The television program will feature York narrating segments filmed on location in London and Paris (he'll also appear onstage for the final dramatic moments of the program).
The score of the 2008 Broadway musical by composer-lyricist-librettist Jill Santoriello includes a new song, "Never Say Goodbye," written by Santoriello (lyrics) and composer Frank Wildhorn.
Producer Ron Sharpe told Playbill.com that about 100 minutes were filmed and will be included on the future DVD release. The PBS airing is a 90-minute trimming of the former two-and-a-half-hour Broadway show that retells the classic Charles Dickens story of love and redemption during the French Revolution, when "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
There are discussions about a national tour of the project, with options for the fully staged show or the hybrid concert/show, Sharpe said.
WGBH-Boston is the presenting station for the TV musical.
A DVD of the concert production and accompanying international studio cast album CD of the musical will be available during the pledge program.
The television program will be distributed internationally in 2010. The International Studio Cast Album was recorded at London's Sphere Studios, home to the Rolling Stones and many other artists, and will feature 80 minutes of music with additional songs from the Broadway show.
Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, the great granddaughter of the novelist, served as the project's historical advisor and is interviewed by Michael York at London's Charles Dickens Museum in a special added feature for the Pledge Program DVD.
Ron Sharpe and Barbra Russell, original Broadway producers of A Tale of Two Cities, are executive producers of the television program along with Emmy-nominated executive producer Bruce Marcus of Jersey Wooly Productions. In 2008, Jersey Wooly Productions produced the television documentary "Finding Billy Elliot," the story of the casting search for the lead role for the Broadway hit musical Billy Elliot.
Joe Locarro is the broadcast director and editor. Locarro also previously served as director, producer and editor of "Finding Billy Elliot" for WNET.
According to production notes, "The beloved story concerns the love triangle of young beauty Lucie Manette, French aristocrat Charles Darnay and drunken cynic Sydney Carton — all caught in the clutches of the bloody French Revolution."
A Tale of Two Cities made its world premiere at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, FL, and played on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. The Broadway production received multiple award nominations from the Outer Critics Circle, the Drama Desk and the Drama League.
Samuel French Ltd. licenses the stock and amateur performing rights for the theatrical production and will publish an Acting Edition of the script in the coming months. The book of Piano/Vocal Selections will be released by Alfred Publishing in December.
For more information about the musical A Tale of Two Cities, and to check broadcast times, visit the website at www.talemusical.com.
The cast for "A Tale of Two Cities In Concert" will feature members of the original Broadway cast including the award winning James Barbour (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominee for his acclaimed role as Sydney Carton.) Natalie Toro (Madame Defarge), Brandi Burkhardt (Lucie Manette) and Kevin Earley (Ernest DeFarge). Other veteran Broadway performers featured are J. Mark McVey (Dr. Alexandre Manette) and Ed Dixon (John Barsad). The international cast members include BAFTA nominated British actress Rosemary Leach as Miss Pross, Simon Thomas (Marguerite in the West End) as Charles Darnay and Olivier Award winner Paul Baker (Taboo, Napoleon in the West End) as the Marquis St Evremonde.
Concert stage director Cummings is artistic director of New York City's Transport Group.
The musical director for the concert is Michael Reed, the original musical director of the West End production of The Phantom of the Opera. He conducts an orchestra of 32 and the musical's cast of 35. Newly enhanced orchestrations are provided by Drama Desk-nominated orchestrator and producer Edward B. Kessel.
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