Leslie Odom, Jr., Haaz Sleiman, Jennifer Damiano, Claybourne Elder and More Set for Venice at the Public

By Adam Hetrick
March 20, 2013

Leslie Odom, Jr. and Haaz Sleiman will star as dueling brothers in the Public Theater production of the new musical Venice, which will begin previews Off-Broadway May 28. The cast will also feature Tony Award nominee Jennifer Damiano, Claybourne Elder and co-author Matt Sax.



The musical has a book by Eric Rosen, music by Sax and lyrics by Sax and Rosen with additional music by Curtis Moore. Rosen and Clay previously collaborated on the one-man hip-hop work Clay, which was seen Off-Broadway at LCT3 in 2008.

The Public has been developing the musical over the past year and a half. Venice debuted in early 2010 at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, where Rosen is artistic director. The co-production later arrived at the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles that fall, where critics were encouraging.

Rosen will direct the Public LAB production that has choreography by Chase Brock (Spider-Man), who replaces the previously announced Sergio Trujillo. Venice officially opens June 13 for a run through June 23.

Odom, Jr. (Leap of Faith) and Sleiman (Food and Fadwa) will co-star as brothers Markos Monroe and Venice Monroe, respectively, in a cast that also features Damiano (Next to Normal) as Willow Turner, Elder (Road Show) as Michael Victor, Sax as the Clown, Uzo Aduba (Godspell) as Anna Monroe, Jonathan-David (Les Misérables) as Theodore Westbrook, Victoria Platt (Jelly's Last Jam) as Emilia Monroe and Angela Polk (Crowns) as Hailey Daisy.

The production will have scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Clint Ramos, lighting design by Jason Lyons, sound design by Acme Sound Partners, projection design by Jason H. Thompson and musical direction by Jim Abbott.

According to the Public, "An electrifying new musical, Venice will ignite the stage with a fusion of musical styles from hip-hop and rock to soaring anthems of love and hope, tracing a young man's rise as he fights for what's right against a backdrop of deceit and sibling betrayal. Part epic romance, part political tale, Venice will transport you to a fallen city in the not-so-distant future where revolution is in the air, political structures are crumbling, and only the children of the city's fallen heroes can change the course of history."

Rosen is a playwright, director and producer. His original plays and musicals include Winesburg, Ohio, for which he wrote the book and lyrics and directed (Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work, and five Barrymore Awards including Best Musical), Dream Boy (Jeff Award for Best Direction and Production), Wedding Play, Dancer from the Dance, Whitman and Undone. He also staged the world premiere of A Christmas Story: The Musical at KC Rep and in a revised production at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

Sax won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Solo Performance for Clay in its presentation by Lookingglass Theatre and About Face Theatre. Clay was also presented Off-Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater; it received Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations.

Moore composed the score for Timon of Athens at The Public, and recently returned from conducting and performing in Sam Mendes' production of Richard III, starring Kevin Spacey, for the Bridge Project. He has also penned the musicals Triangle, Stagecoach Mary and The Bus To Buenos Aires. He composed and performed songs in the film "Palindromes" and composed the score for "Clear Blue Tuesday."

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