Public Moves Giant Off-Broadway Opening in Wake of Hurricane Sandy Rehearsal Delays

By Adam Hetrick
November 7, 2012

The new Michael John LaChiusa-Sybille Pearson musical Giant, based on Edna Ferber's novel about a marriage set against the backdrop of Texas in the mid-20th century, will now officially open Off-Broadway Nov. 15 at the Public Theater. Previews began Oct. 26.



Michael Greif (Next to Normal, Rent, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide...) helms the production that was originally scheduled to open Nov. 13. The cast and crew lost nearly a week's worth of preview performances and rehearsals during Hurricane Sandy the week of Oct. 29, which forced the Public to reschedule the opening night to Nov. 15. Performances will continue through Dec. 2.

While the Public Theater and much of lower Manhattan were without power last week, the cast of Giant continued to rehearse the ambitious musical in midtown.

Giant has music and lyrics by five-time Tony Award nominee LaChiusa (Queen of the Mist, Hello Again, Marie Christine, The Wild Party) and a book by Tony nominee Pearson (Baby). The musical had its world premiere at the Signature Theatre Company in Arlington, VA, in 2009, where it clocked in at four hours. The writers have continued to refine the production, paring the running time down for New York (and with new director Greif).

The musical, which features a 17-member orchestra, is based on Ferber's novel, but is best known for its iconic 1956 film version that starred Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean.

Prior to its New York bow, Giant was seen in a revised staging at the Dallas Theater Center last winter, also under Greif's direction. Giant is a co-production between the Dallas Theater Center and the Public.

The Public also premiered LaChiusa's The Wild Party, See What I Wanna See, The Petrified Prince and First Lady Suite.

"In a lot of ways, like the great Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, Michael John and Sybille's musical is not only about very intense personal relationships, expressed beautifully in song, but also about how people live in communities, and have great heroic, history-changing effects on those communities, this musical is much like that," Greif told Playbill in a recent interview. 

Giant's central love triangle features Kate Baldwin, a Tony Award nominee for Finian's Rainbow, as Leslie, opposite Tony Award nominee Brian d'Arcy James (Titanic, Shrek, Sweet Smell of Success, "Smash") as wealthy Texas cattle man Bick and P.J. Griffith (American Idiot) as young oil tycoon Jett. Baldwin and Griffith originated their respective roles in the DTC production.

Brian d'Arcy James

Much of the original DTC cast reunites for the Off-Broadway production, with the addition of Tony Award winner Michele Pawk as Luz, Mackenzie Mauzy as Lil Luz, Tony nominee Bobby Steggert as Jordy Jr./Jordy Sr. and Jon Fletcher as Bobby Jr./Bobby Sr.

The cast is completed by Enrique Acevedo as ensemble; Raul Aranas as Polo; Mary Bacon as Adarene and Mrs. Lyntonn; Miguel Cervantes as Angel, Jr. and Angel, Sr.; Natalie Cortez as Juana; Rocio Del Mar Valles as Analita; Tony nominee John Dossett as Bawley; Michael Halling as Lord Kafrey; Doreen Montalvo as Lupe; Allison Rogers as Heidi; Isabel Santiago as ensemble; Martin Sola as Dimodeo; Matthew Stocke as Mike; Katie Thompson as Vashti; and William Youmans as Pinkie.

According to the Public, "Giant is a new American musical that spans generations in an epic chronicle of the state that’s like no place else on earth: Texas. Amid a turbulent culture of greed, bigotry and money, a powerful cattleman, his new East Coast bride, their family and friends – not to mention their enemies – embrace and confront the joys and sorrows that loom as large as the state they call home."

The Giant creative team includes costume designer Jeff Mashie, scenic designer Allen Moyer, lighting designer Ken Posner, sound designer Brian Ronan and choreographer Alex Sanchez. Chris Fenwick is musical director. Orchestrations are by Bruce Coughlin.

For tickets phone (212) 967-7555, or visit PublicTheater. The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.