New Girl in Town, the Anna Christie Musical, Gets Extra Performances Off-Broadway

By Kenneth Jones
August 8, 2012

New Girl in Town, Bob Merrill's 1957 musicalization of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie, about a prostitute with abuse in her past and hope in her heart, will get an extra week of performances, now to Sept. 14, in its rare New York City revival at Irish Repertory Theatre. Margaret Loesser Robinson (IRT's Man and Superman) plays Anna, a role originated by Gwen Verdon, who won a Best Actress Tony Award for her turn. 



The production opened July 26, following previews from July 18. Artistic director Charlotte Moore's cast also includes Cliff Bemis (White Christmas) as Chris, Patrick Cummings (It Must Be Him) as Matt and Danielle Ferland (Into the Woods) as Marthy, with Dewey Caddell, Abby Church, Patrick Cummings, Matt Gibson, Kimberly Dawn Neumann, Alex Puette, Amber Stone and Stephen Zinnato.

The final week's schedule is Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 8 PM; Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 3 PM and 8 PM; Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7 PM; and Friday, Sept. 14 at 3 PM and 8 PM.

According to Irish Rep, New Girl in Town, which was Tony-nominated as Best Musical in 1958, "takes place in New York City, 1926. Along the sordid New York Waterfront teeming with drunks and merchant sailors, Anna, a young woman with a secret past, arrives searching for her father, old Chris Christopherson, Swedish captain of a coal barge traveling between New York and Provincetown. On a foggy night, a sailor is pulled from the cold, dark waters of the Atlantic... and when the fog clears, Anna comes face to face with merchant sailor, Matt Burke, and both lives are changed forever."

George Abbott penned the libretto. Music and lyrics are by Bob Merrill, who also scored Take Me Along, musicalization of another O'Neill classic — Ah, Wilderness! He also wrote scores for Carnival! and (with Jule Styne) Funny Girl and Sugar.

Also in 1958, Thelma Ritter shared the Best Actress Tony (for playing Marthy), a rare tie in Tony history; Bob Fosse was nominated for his Choreography; and Cameron Prud'homme was nominated as Best Featured Actor in a Musical as Chris. A cast album preserves the score.

Read the Playbill feature about the life and work of late songwriter Bob Merrill.

The new production features choreography by Barry McNabb and musical direction by John Bell. It has set design by James Morgan; lighting design by Mary Jo Dondlinger; costume design by China Lee; sound design by Zach Williamson; and wig design by Robert-Charles Vallance. Stephen Gabis is dialect coach. Production stage manager is Christine Lemme. Assistant stage manager is Arthur Atkinson.

Irish Repertory Theatre is at 132 W. 22nd Street.

Visit IrishRep.org.