Starry Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Opens on Broadway Nov. 4

By Adam Hetrick
November 4, 2010

The bustling excitement of Madrid in the late 1980s comes to life in the world-premiere musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, starring Sherie Rene Scott, Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti, opening Nov. 4 at Broadway's newly restored Belasco Theatre. Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher directs the musical based on Pedro Almodóvar's Oscar-nominated 1988 film.



Lincoln Center Theater presents the musical. Akin to the film on which it is based, the technically sophisticated production cuts to colorful locations across Madrid as the story of love, abandonment and spiked gazpacho unfolds. The technical demands of the production delayed the start of previews from Oct. 2 to Oct. 8. Director Sher won a Best Direction Tony Award for South Pacific.

Tony-nominated Dirty Rotten Scoundrels collaborators David Yazbek (music and lyrics) and Jeffrey Lane (book) adapted the film for the stage. Women on the Verge is one of four new musicals this season to open on Broadway without a prior tryout run (the others will be Spider-Man, Elf and The Book of Mormon). The creative team has continued to hone the work throughout the preview period in front of New York audiences.

Among the songs penned for the musical are "Madrid," "Lie to Me," "Lovesick," "Time Stood Still," "Model Behavior," "Island," "On the Verge," "Mother's Day," "Invisible" and "Talk to Me."

Tony Award winner Brian Mitchell (Kiss Me, Kate, Ragtime) is the musical's virile catalyst, Ivan, who sets off an emotional rollercoaster that causes the women in his life (and beyond) to toe the line between sanity and mental collapse. His fellow leading men include Tony nominee Danny Burstein (South Pacific) as a flashy taxi driver and Justin Guarini ("American Idol").

The Women on the Verge are played by Tony nominee Scott (Everyday Rapture, The Little Mermaid) as Pepa, the abandoned girlfriend; Tony winner LuPone (Gypsy, Evita) as the scorned ex-wife, Lucia ; Tony winner Benanti (Gypsy, In the Next Room) as the high-strung best friend Candela; as well as Tony nominee de'Adre Aziza (Passing Strange), Tony nominee Mary Beth Peil (Nine, Sunday in the Park With George) and Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Seussical).

Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Laura Benanti and Justin Guarini
photo by Paul Kolnik

The Women on the Verge ensemble includes Julio Agustin, Alma Cuervo, John Carroll, Murphy Guyer, Rachel Bay Jones, Nina Lafarga, Yanira Marin, Sean McCort, Vivian Nixon, Luis Salgado, Jennifer Maria Sanchez, John Schiappa, Samantha Shafer, Phillip Spaeth, Matthew Steffens and Charlie Sutton.

Women on the Verge has choreography by Christopher Gattelli, musical direction by Jim Abbott, sets by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Brian MacDevitt, sound by Scott Lehrer, projections by Sven Ortel, aerial design by The Sky Box, special effects by Gregory Meeh, wigs and hair by Charles LaPointe, make-up by Dick Page, orchestrations by Simon Hale, and additional orchestrations by Jim Abbott & David Yazbek.

Here's how LCT bills Women on the Verge: "Both touching and hilarious, it's a story about women and the men who pursue them... finding them, losing them, needing them, and rejecting them. At the center is Pepa (Scott) whose friends and lovers are blazing a trail through 1980s Madrid. And why do they all keep showing up at her high-rise apartment? Is it her gazpacho? Along with Pepa, there's her missing (possibly philandering) lover, Ivan (Mitchell); his ex-wife of questionable sanity, Lucia (LuPone); Pepa's friend, Candela (Benanti), and her terrorist boyfriend; a power-suited lawyer (Aziza) plus a taxi driver (Burstein) who dispenses tissues, mints and advice in equal proportion. Mayhem and comic madness abound, balanced by the empathy and heart that are trademarks of Almodóvar's work. And of Bartlett Sher's too."

Sher earned Tony nominations for each of his other Broadway directorial outings for Lincoln Center Theater, including Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Light in the Piazza and Awake and Sing!

Tickets are currently on sale through Jan. 23, 2011. For tickets visit LCT.org, or phone Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. The Belasco Theatre is located at 111 West 44th Street.

Robert Viagas offers a tour of the newly renovated Belasco Theatre: