Nutty Professor Musical, With Mark Jacoby, Michael Andrew, Croons in Nashville; Jerry Lewis Directs
By Kenneth Jones
The world premiere of The Nutty Professor, the new Rupert Holmes-Marvin Hamlisch musical based on the 1963 Jerry Lewis film comedy, begins previews in Nashville on July 24. The show is directed by Lewis himself.
Michael Andrew plays the title character who concocts a potion that transforms him into a smooth lothario named Buddy Love. Mark Jacoby (a Tony nominee for Hal Prince's Show Boat and a veteran of Broadway's Sweeney Todd, Elf, Ragtime, The Phantom of the Opera and more) plays multiple parts. Marissa McGowan (Broadway's Bonnie & Clyde and the recent A Little Night Music and Les Misérables revivals) plays love interest Stella.
The staging plays to Aug. 19 at the James K. Polk Theater in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, TN. Opening night is July 31. Hamlisch and Holmes are both Tony Award winners (the former for A Chorus Line, the latter for The Mystery of Edwin Drood).
In the new show, as in the film that starred Lewis, "Professor Julius Kelp is a dull geek with a bright idea," according to production notes. "Privately experimenting in his laboratory to find the cure for his social failures, he creates a potion that transforms him into a smooth talking, party animal named Buddy Love. Buddy is everything that Julius always dreamed of being and gets the girl that he always dreamed of dating, Stella. The only problem is that the potion doesn't last very long. Will the school find out his secret and will Stella stick around even after Love has left the building?"
In addition to actor-singer-bandleader Andrew, the company includes Klea Blackhurst (Miss Lemon); Alex David (Kelp Double); Meghan Glogower (Ensemble); Blair Goldberg (Ensemble and Understudy Stella); Autumn Guzzardi (Ensemble); Show Boat Tony nominee Mark Jacoby (Dead Warfield, Murray, Maury, The Bartender); Sarah Marie Jenkins (Ensemble); Allison Little (Swing); Charles MacEachern (Ensemble); Marissa McGowan (Stella); Lindsay Moore (Ensemble); Ronnie Nelson (Ensemble/Norm); Patrick O'Neill (Dance Captain/Ensemble); Dominique Plaisant (Ensemble and Understudy Miss Lemon); Jamie Ross (Harrington Winslow); Carly Blake Sebouhian (Ensemble); Jason Sparks (Swing); Christopher Spaulding (Ensemble); Kristopher Thompson-Bolden (Ensemble); Kyle Vaughn (Ensemble); Ryan Worsing (Ensemble/Chad and Understudy Buddy/Julius).
The creative team also includes musical director Todd Ellison (Broadway's recent La Cage aux Folles), choreographer Joann M. Hunter (Broadway's recent On a Clear Day You Can See Forever), scenic designer David Gallo (The Drowsy Chaperone), costume designer Ann Hould-Ward (Beauty and the Beast), orchestrator Larry Hochman (Tony Award for The Book of Mormon) and dance arranger David Dabbon (Audra McDonald at Carnegie Hall).
Michael Andrew was once the headline singer and bandleader at the world famous Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center in New York City, where he also hosted a live radio broadcast, "Live From The Rainbow Room." He was the bandleader and singer at Merv Griffin's Coconut Club in The Beverly Hilton in California. He is the author of a musical comedy called Mickey Swingerhead & The Earthgirls and leader of the bands Swingerhead and The Atomic Big Band. His bio indicates that he sings "in the style and tradition of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, and Sammy Davis, Jr." He has been a featured guest artist with symphony orchestras around the U.S.
The original "Nutty Professor" screenplay is by Jerry Lewis and Bill Richmond. Lewis also directed the film.
Lyricist-librettist Holmes won his Drood Tonys in the categories of Best Score and Best Book, and was Tony-nommed for Best Book and (with John Kander & Fred Ebb) Best Score for Curtains. Drood will have its first Broadway revival this fall, by Roundabout Theatre Company.
Composer Hamlisch, whose Broadway scores also include They're Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success, has won three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globe Awards. His A Chorus Line (with lyrics by Ed Kleban and book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante) received the Pulitzer Prize. He is the composer of more than 40 motion picture scores.
The Broadway-aimed The Nutty Professor is produced by lead producer Ned McLeod and Nashville producer Mac Pirkle, who founded Tennessee Repertory Theatre. No dates or venue have been announced for Broadway.
Lewis, who appeared as Mr. Applegate in the Broadway revival and tour of Damn Yankees, said in an earlier statement, "The film that I made in 1963 was so good that I decided to do a Broadway show. And there's no better place to go to find out what you've got than Nashville. This musical will be spectacular for a couple of reasons. One, I'm directing it. Two, I have Michael Andrew, who is one of the best talents to come down the pike in 50 years. And I'm surrounding him with one of a kind creative people, like Marvin Hamlisch, Rupert Holmes, and me…After it's over, give me a call and let me know if everything I said was spot on."
"Music is truly an international language and it has the ability to bring people together like nothing else... except comedy," added Hamlisch. "It's a thrill to be working with Jerry Lewis, a true king of comedy, and bringing this classic story to life on Broadway with music."
"Jerry Lewis has been my hero from boyhood, not only as one of the most gifted entertainers of all time but also as one of the grand masters of movie-making," said Holmes. "To work with Jerry and the vivid cast of characters he created is a privilege and thrill beyond measure."
For more information, visit nuttyprofessormusical.com.
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