Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Nikki M. James, Ann Harada Sing Rocket Science in NYC Reading; Kathleen Marshall Directs
By Kenneth Jones
Rocket Science: The Musical, the high school-set musical that won the Richard Rodgers Award for Staged Readings, will be presented in a reading by Playwrights Horizons Oct. 28-29. Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall directs.
The musical, based on the 2007 HBO film "Rocket Science," about the obstacles of a high-school outsider and his work with the debate team, has a book by Patricia Cotter, music by Stephen Weiner and lyrics by Jason Rhyne.
Marshall is a two-time Tony Award winner for The Pajama Game and Wonderful Town.
There are four private invitation-only readings at noon and 3:30 PM Oct. 28-29 at Playwrights Horizons at 416 W. 42nd Street. Playwrights Horizons is presenting the readings with support from the Richard Rodgers Award for Stage Readings, administered by the American Academy of Letters.
The reading cast features Nancy Anderson (Wonderful Town, Drama Desk nominations for Fanny Hill and Jolson & Co.), Ann Harada (Avenue Q, 9 to 5, Les Misérables), Nikki M. James (All Shook Up), Troy Britton Johnson (The Drowsy Chaperone, Damn Yankees), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast), Mykal Kilgore (Hair), Jacob Ming-Trent (Shrek The Musical), Don Stephenson (Rock of Ages, The Producers), Jesse Swenson (Spring Awakening), Julia Bray, Andrea Green, F. Michael Haynie and Miguel Jarquin-Moreland. Musical direction is by Remy Kurs.
In the musical, according to the creators, "Hal Hefner's (Keenan-Bolger) stutter has always kept him quiet, but when his love for Jenny Ryerson (James) leads him to join the Plainsboro High School debate team, he finds more than just his voice. When Jenny's plan to partner with Hal turns out to be a set up, he enlists formerly great, currently disgraced, debate champion Ben Wekselbaum (Swenson) to help him show everyone what he's made of. Charming and quirky, Rocket Science is a story about living life out loud."
Librettist Cotter penned the one-woman show Beth Malone - So Far; The Break-Up Notebook: The Lesbian Musical (NAMT Festival, The Vineyard Theatre reading, Hudson Theater in L.A., Diversionary Theater in San Diego, The Beck Center in Cleveland, Zach Theater); the play Three; and the book adaptation and additional lyrics for the musical Mulan Jr..
Composer Weiner is the recipient of two Richard Rodgers Awards, the Jonathan Larson Award, the ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, the Global Search for New Musicals Award and The New York Innovative ("IT") Theater Award. He wrote the Obie Award-winning revue, newyorkers (Glenn Slater, lyrics; Drama Desk, Lortel nominee), which played at Manhattan Theatre Club. His other credits include The Hudsucker Proxy (Glenn Slater, book & lyrics), Once Upon a Time in New Jersey (Susan DiLallo, book and lyrics), Iron Curtain (Susan DiLallo, book; Peter Mills, lyrics; New York Innovative Theater Award), Spittin' Image (Karin Kasdin, book; Laura Szabo Cohen, lyrics).
Lyricist Rhyne is a recipient of a 2008 Jonathan Larson Award as a composer-lyricist, is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts and studied musical theatre at Ithaca College. Credits include music and lyrics for the The MacGuffin, presented at the New York Musical Theatre Festival; and book, music and lyrics for an adaptation of the children's novel Littlejim. He is an alumnus of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop.
For more information about Playwrights Horizons, visit www.playwrightshorizons.org.
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