PHOTO CALL: Klea Blackhurst, Janine DiVita, Joy Franz, Jessica Grové, Andrew Samonsky and More Celebrate Mufti Happy Hunting
By Matthew Blank
The York Theatre Company's production of Happy Hunting — part of the Winter 2013 Musicals in Mufti Series — was presented March 15-17 at The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter's.
Directed by David Glenn Armstrong and with music direction by David Andrews Rogers, the cast featured Klea Blackhurst as Liz Livingstone with Janine DiVita, Joy Franz, Jessica Grové, Seán Martin Hingston, Michael McCormick, Heather Parcells, Andrew Samonsky, Eric Sciotto, Michael Sharon and Lynne Wintersteller.
Happy Hunting has a book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, lyrics by Matt Dubey and music by Harold Karr. The musical was originally a star vehicle written for Ethel Merman.
"When Liz Livingstone — rich, widowed Philadelphia hostess with a heart of gold — perceives a snub at the Grace Kelly-Prince Rainier 'Wedding of the Year' in Monaco, she single-mindedly sets out to snare an even more impressively titled husband for her daughter," according to York notes. "Things get predictably complicated when she succeeds and then promptly falls for her intended son-in-law herself. Meanwhile, the bride-to-be only has eyes for the society lawyer, and Liz's dashing Duke turns out to be very possibly penniless."
"I am genetically predisposed toward celebrating the works of Ethel Merman," said actress Blackhurst in an earlier statement. "I know a lot about the First Lady of Musical Theatre and have enjoyed playing some of her most celebrated roles. I've walked miles in those tiny pumps and enjoyed life from behind her proverbial highball.…But never, in my wildest dreams, did I expect someone to come knocking and ask me to take a swing at Happy Hunting! It takes a genius and a fabulous theatre company to make that call."
The production also featured associate direction by Wendy Seyb and assistant music direction by Beth Ertz. Jenny Leon was assistant to the director, and Steven Cardona was the assistant to the associate director. The production stage manager was Bernita Robinson.
Musicals in Mufti series presents musicals in a simply-staged, book-in-hand concert format; Mufti means "in street clothes, without the trappings associated with the original full productions."
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