Michael John LaChiusa's Giant to Be Licensed by R&H; First Daughter Suite On the Horizon
By Adam Hetrick
Giant, the sweeping Texas-set musical by Tony Award nominees Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson that had its New York premiere at the Public Theater earlier this season, will be licensed by R&H Theatricals.
The epic romantic musical about cattle barons, oil tycoons and racial prejudice had its world premiere at the Signature Theatre Company in Arlington, VA, in 2009. The original three-act production had a running time of nearly four hours. It has a book by Pearson (Baby) and a score by LaChiusa Queen of the Mist, Hello Again, Marie Christine, The Wild Party).
The musical is based on Edna Ferber's novel, but is best known for its iconic 1956 film version that starred Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean.
LaChiusa told Playbill.com that Giant will be available for licensing in its two-act format, which was first seen at the Dallas Theater Center in early 2012, and was streamlined to under three hours for its New York premiere at the Public Theater last November.
The writers also plan to make an addendum available with additional cut material unseen since the Signature world premiere. "If there aren't concerns about running over the three-hour mark, they can do the show in the two-act structure, or they can do it in three acts. Those options will be made available down the line," LaChiusa stated.
Among the material not seen in New York is the song "Stranger," which was written for the character of Leslie. Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin originated the role on stage in Dallas and New York, and preserved the piece on the Ghostlight Records two-disc cast album, released May 21.
According to LaChiusa, "When we began doing some heavy-duty editing in the first act and getting the show into two acts during Dallas previews, we realized that this beautiful song had a tendency to make everyone sit back a little bit." The song, which finds Leslie longing to be "somebody new," was cut to allow for the action to continue.
"Kate sings it gorgeously and I'm so glad it's included on the album," LaChiusa added. "In a longer version like the initial production at the Signature Theatre, it works quite beautifully because you need that rest in the act."
While Giant is not currently available for licensing from R&H Theatricals, LaChiusa says he is hopeful to return to the piece, likely in another three-act production.
His upcoming projects also include a sequel to his 1993 musical First Lady Suite, titled First Daughter Suite. The piece is a commission for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and will have a New York reading this fall.
When asked if First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters might be part of it, LaChiusa coyly replied, "I didn't touch on Michelle; her story's not done yet. Although I wouldn't be surprised if she makes an appearance someplace in it. I might ask Audra [McDonald] to march through the whole thing. She'd make a perfect Michelle!"
The New York production of Giant featured Baldwin, a Tony Award nominee for Finian's Rainbow, as Leslie, 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.
Listen to "Did Spring Come to Texas?" performed by Brian d'Arcy James here:
Here's a look at the production:
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