Baby Case, Musical About Lindbergh Crime, Gets Revision and Reading with Timothy Jerome, Anika Larsen
By Kenneth Jones
Tony Award nominee Timothy Jerome, Anika Larsen, Becca Ayers, Charlie Brady and more will perform in a March 16 Manhattan reading of Baby Case, the Barrymore Award-winning musical fantasia about the infamous Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
This 29-hour reading, directed by Jeremy Dobrish (Rated P for Parenthood), represents a revision of the musical since its 2001 world premiere by Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia. That production won Barrymores for Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical and Outstanding Original Music (as well as Actor and Ensemble awards). New York-based Philly native Michael Ogborn (Café Puttanesca, Box Office of the Damned) wrote the book, music and lyrics.
The musical about the media hype and public interest in the 1932 murder of Charles Lindbergh, Jr., will appear in the New York Musical Theatre Festival this summer.
"This is a reading to prepare for the festival," Ogborn told Playbill.com. "It's for the creative team to assemble a game plan. I took the original cast of 24 actors down to 11 actors, with Lindbergh and accused kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann doubling. It's the same script with one cut song. It's so much fun to hear this music again. It's still a fascinating story that captivates the public imagination."
Ogborn's new musical Tulipomania will premiere at Arden in the coming months. Broadway's Adam Heller is among players.
The reading cast of Baby Case does not necessarily represent the future NYMF cast (issues of actor availability may complicate things).
The reading cast features Anika Larsen as Violet Sharpe; Becca Ayers as Betty Gow; Becky Gulsvig as Adela Rodgers St. Johns; Haley Bond as Anne Morrow Lindbergh; Michael Thomas Holmes as Walter Winchell; Charlie Brady as Lindbergh/Hauptmann; Tim Jerome as "Jafsie"; Tyrone Robinson as William Allen; Carl Wallnau as Schwarzkopf/Hearst; Jamie LaVerdiere as Photographer; Jason Collins as Wilentz.
The creative team includes producer Charlie Fink, assistant producer Kelly Wetherald, choreographer Warren Adams, accompanist Taylor Williams and reading stage manager Genevieve Ortiz.
Ogborn is a New York songwriter and Philadelphia native who saw theatrical tension and juicy characters in the media and public hysteria that followed the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby in New Jersey in 1932.
In its sold-out 2011 premiere, the show included video projections as it introduced servants, accomplices, the accused killer, his wife, news mogul William Randolph Hearst, commentator Walter Winchell, grieving aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne Morrow, the police and others, all singing ruefully and satirically — in hybrid style that was part '30s pastiche and part contemporary pop — about one of the great crimes of the 20th century. The musical raises questions and ultimately suggests it is unclear if justice was served.
The murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh's son, Charles Jr., caused a sensation. Through shifting points of view and different storytelling styles, Baby Case "explores the nation's fascination with every detail of the case, regardless of how bizarre or unfounded, from the crime to the execution of Bruno Hauptmann," Ogborn said.
At turns comic, sad and ironic, the show, he said, "satirizes the personalities that rose and descended infamously in the media circus and court proceedings. There's definitely a tabloid quality to it. The story is told through the eyes of the people who were on the periphery of the event, or had something to do with it — for example, a maid, police, witnesses."
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