Musical Diner Testing Its Neon in Private NYC Workshop
By Kenneth Jones
The creative team of the new musical Diner, based on the movie of the same name, began a four-week workshop Oct. 8 in Manhattan to prepare for the show's spring 2013 Broadway bow.
As previously reported, this fully-staged workshop takes the place of a four-week San Francisco tryout that was planned for October-November. The workshop, the casting of which has not been made public, allows the director (Kathleen Marshall) and writers (librettist Barry Levinson and composer-lyricist Sheryl Crow) to work with actors and designers to make necessary artistic revisions to the show.
It was announced on Aug. 3 that the production will be retooled for a more intimate Broadway venue than first expected.
"Coming to Broadway in one of the most crowded spring seasons in some time, the production was originally envisioned and designed for a large Broadway musical house, but with the healthy crop of Broadway musicals and revivals, both current and hopefuls, there are more shows vying for large musical houses than are available," according to the Aug. 3 statement from lead producer BASE Entertainment (co-CEOs Scott Zeiger and Brian Becker). "Faced with this challenge the producers and creative team of Diner embarked on an exploratory exercise to determine if the show would play as effectively in a theatre with a capacity no larger than 1,100 seats, for which there is greater opportunity. Holding themselves to uncompromising standards they happily discovered that their answer was 'yes.'
Diner will open on Broadway April 10, 2013, at a theatre to be announced. The musical about pals who gather at a Baltimore diner in 1959 is being directed and choreographed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall (Wonderful Town, The Pajama Game, Anything Goes).
"Once you have locked in your physical production out-of-town there is no flexibility to subsequently play a smaller venue," Zeiger said in an earlier statement. "With no guarantee of a large musical house in the spring this was our only fiscally responsible choice. We are also encouraged by recent examples of successful, critically-acclaimed musicals playing theatres with roughly the same capacity that we will play. We are exceptionally pleased to bring Diner to Broadway in the spring and will announce our home very shortly."
Marshall previously added, "I love that we are envisioning Diner for a more intimate theatre. I think Barry's wonderfully vivid characters and Sheryl's fabulously rockin' score will be even more thrilling in a smaller venue where the audience can experience the show viscerally."
Diner, based on Levinson's 1982 film, is set in Baltimore, 1959, when six high school friends reunite at the one place they know they'll always belong: the Diner. "Now in their twenties, the friends have stumbled into adulthood and struggle to keep from growing apart," according to production notes. "Life, love, responsibility — it's all on the table."
Crow is a nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter.
The production team includes scenic designer Derek McLane, lighting designer Peter Kaczorowski and sound designer Scott Lehrer with orchestrations and music direction by Mitchell Froom.
Academy Award winner Levinson received an Oscar nomination for his original screenplay for "Diner," which was his film directing debut. The rueful film comedy starred Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke and Daniel Stern.
As with the workshop, casting for the Broadway run has also not been revealed.
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