Silent Film Legend Chaplin Tramps Onto Broadway; Previews Begin Aug. 21
By Michael Gioia
The new Broadway musical Chaplin, depicting the life of screen legend Charlie Chaplin and chronicling the rise and fall of the infamous Little Tramp, begins previews Aug. 21 at the Barrymore Theatre. Rob McClure stars.
Barrymore Award winner McClure, who previously starred on Broadway in Avenue Q, originated the role of Chaplin in 2010 at La Jolla Playhouse, where the musical received its world premiere under the title of Limelight; that staging received Craig Noel Awards for Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical (McClure) and Outstanding New Musical.
Drama Desk nominee Warren Carlyle (Finian's Rainbow; Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway), choreographer of the out-of-town tryout, returns as director and choreographer for Chaplin's Broadway bow.
"I'm very inspired by [Charlie Chaplin]," Carlyle told Playbill.com. "He was a silent comedian. He was able to tell a story without a single word. As a choreographer, I love that. I'm challenged by that and inspired by it. In this show, we get to take the life of Charlie Chaplin and somehow make him speak…then make him sing. And, when he can no longer sing, he dances. It's an interesting challenge to bring that to life."
"The show starts [in] this beautiful, kind of chocolate-box-y, perfect world and then dissolves into this very dark troubled place — as his life did," added Carlyle.
Chaplin features music and lyrics by Christopher Curtis and a book by three-time Tony Award winner Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Curtis. Opening night is set for Sept. 10.
"I actually met [Chaplin's] son, Sydney Chaplin, which was really interesting," said Curtis about why he chose to adapt Chaplin's life for Broadway. "I really didn't know much about Chaplin before that… I found his life really intriguing, [and] I thought the time period would lend itself to great music. And, I took a college course on his life. That's how it really started."
Joining McClure in Chaplin are Jim Borstelmann (The Addams Family, Young Frankenstein) as Alf Reeves, Jenn Colella (High Fidelity, Urban Cowboy) as Hedda Hopper, Erin Mackey (Anything Goes, Wicked) as Oona O'Neill, Michael McCormick (Elf, Curtains) as Sennett, McGranery/Emcee, Tony Award nominee Christiane Noll (Ragtime, Jekyll & Hyde) as Hannah Chaplin, Zachary Unger (Encores! Merrily We Roll Along) as Young Charlie/Jackie and Wayne Alan Wilcox (The Normal Heart) as Sydney Chaplin.
Rounding out the ensemble are Justin Bowen, Emilee Dupré, Sara Edwards, Leslie Donna Flesner, Lisa Gajda, Timothy Hughes, Ethan Khusidman, Ian Liberto, Renée Marino, Michael Mendez, Sarah O’Gleby, Hayley Podschun, Adam Rogers, William Ryall, Eric Santagata and Emily Tyra.
Here's how producers characterize the new musical: "From the slums of London to the heights of Hollywood, Chaplin is the showbiz Broadway musical about the silent film legend the world couldn't stop talking about — Charlie Chaplin. The brand new 24-person musical reveals the man behind the legend, the undeniable genius that forever changed the way America went to the movies."
The creative team for Chaplin includes scenic designer Beowulf Boritt, costume designers Amy Clark and Martin Pakledinaz, lighting designer Ken Billington, sound designers Scott Lehrer and Drew Levy and projection designer Jon Driscoll. Bryan Perri is the musical director.
Chaplin is produced on Broadway by the Rich Entertainment Group, Roy Gabay, and John and Claire Caudwell, the Viertel Routh Frankel Baruch Group, Chunsoo Shin/Waxman-Dokton and Broadway Across America.
The Barrymore Theatre is located at 243 West 47th Street. Tickets, which range in price from $66.50 to $135.50, can be purchased through Telecharge or by calling (212) 239-6200.
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