Far From Heaven, With Kelli O'Hara, Tests Its Wings in Williamstown Starting July 19
By Adam Hetrick
The new musical Far From Heaven, based on the 2002 Todd Haynes film about a 1950s Connecticut housewife whose world is turned upside-down, receives its developmental premiere July 19 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Four-time Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale star.
Far From Heaven has a score by Tony Award-nominated Grey Gardens and Finding Neverland songwriters Scott Frankel (music) and Michael Korie (lyrics) and a book by Tony Award winner Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out).
Tony nominee Michael Greif (Grey Gardens, Rent, Next to Normal) directs the production that will run through July 29. Following the Williamstown preview production, Far From Heaven will be presented Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in spring 2013. O'Hara will also star in Manhattan. She is currently taking a break from Broadway's Nice Work If You Can Get It to work on Far From Heaven. She returns to Nice Work on July 31.
O'Hara (The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific, Nice Work...) stars as Cathy Whitaker, who has her world shattered through a series of revelations and emotional encounters. Pasquale (Reasons to Be Pretty, "Rescue Me") portrays her husband, Frank.
"If I had ever entertained any ideas of doing pastiche-period songs, Richard Greenberg was not into that at all," Korie told Playbill.com. "He took the stories completely seriously. So we went on the assumption that the music would take the place of the stylization and cinematography of the film. When we started writing songs, almost immediately that seemed to prove true. And when we did the first reading, the story just worked, and the music maybe even intensified it. It's a mostly-music musical — in a Rodgers and Hammerstein vein, where you take the characters seriously. You don't write genre cream-puff songs. You write from character."
The cast also features JB Adams (Annie) as Morris Farnsworth, Nancy Anderson (A Class Act) as Eleanor Fine, Quincy Tyler Bernstine ("Rachel Getting Married") as Sybil, Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple) as Raymond Deagan, Sarah Jane Everman (Promises, Promises) as Doreen/Connie/Patti Page, Alison Fraser (Gypsy) as Mona Lauder, Kate Hamilton as Nancy, Chris Hoch (La Cage aux Folles) as Stan Fine, Crystal Lucas-Perry (WTF's A Streetcar Named Desire) as Esther, Preston Martin as Blond Son, Alexa Niziak as Janice Whitaker, Charlie Plummer as David Whitaker, Michael James Shaw as Musician/Gus, Mary Stout (Jane Eyre) as Mrs. Leacock and Tony Yazbeck (Gypsy) as Dick Dawson.
Here's how the musical is billed: "Cathy Whitaker seems to be the picture-perfect wife and mother in 1957 suburban Connecticut. But roiling beneath the surface, secret longings and forbidden desires cause her world to unravel — with incendiary consequences. With a lush score that is both jazz-inflected and hauntingly lyrical, Far From Heaven is a powerful story of romance, betrayal, intolerance and a woman grappling with her identity in a society on the verge of great upheaval."
Designing Far From Heaven are Allen Moyer (scenic design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design), Nevin Steinberg (sound design) and Peter Nigrini (projections design). Larry Yurman (Grey Gardens) is music director and orchestrations are by Tony Award winner Bruce Coughlin (The Light in the Piazza, Grey Gardens).
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