Far From Heaven, Starring Kelli O'Hara, Steven Pasquale and Isaiah Johnson, Opens at Playwrights Horizons June 2
By Adam Hetrick
Shadows close in on a Connecticut family in the Playwrights Horizons world-premiere musical Far From Heaven. Kelli O'Hara, Steven Pasquale and Isaiah Johnson star in the musical adaptation of Todd Haynes' 1950s-set film, which officially opens June 2 Off-Broadway.
The musical by Tony Award-nominated Grey Gardens songwriters Michael Korie and Scott Frankel and Take Me Out Tony Award winner Richard Greenberg began previews May 8. The initial run sold-out, prompting Playwrights Horizons to extend the production an additional week to July 7. Tickets are available for the extension.
Far From Heaven, directed by Tony nominee Michael Greif (Grey Gardens, Rent, Next to Normal), arrives in New York following a developmental premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival last summer. O'Hara (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza) and Pasquale (A Man of No Importance, Intelligent Homosexual's Guide) created their respective roles of Cathy and Frank Whittaker for the show at Williamstown.
Johnson (Peter and the Starcatcher; The Merchant of Venice on Broadway) stars as Raymond, the African American gardner who inspires hope within Cathy for a new life beyond her isolated suburban existence.
The stage production is based on Haynes' Academy Award-nominated 2002 film, which starred Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert.
In the show, according to PH, "Cathy Whitaker (O'Hara) seems to be the picture-perfect wife and mother in 1957 suburban Connecticut. But roiling beneath the surface, secret longings and forbidden desires cause her world to unravel, with incendiary consequences. With a lush score that is both jazz-inflected and hauntingly lyrical, Far From Heaven is a powerful story of romance, betrayal and intolerance, as a woman grapples with her identity in a society on the verge of upheaval."
"If I had ever entertained any ideas of doing pastiche-period songs, Richard Greenberg was not into that at all," Korie told Playbill.com in a 2012 interview about the project. "He took the stories completely seriously. So we went on the assumption that the music would take the place of the stylization and cinematography of the film. When we started writing songs, almost immediately that seemed to prove true. And when we did the first reading, the story just worked, and the music maybe even intensified it. It's a mostly-music musical — in a Rodgers and Hammerstein vein, where you take the characters seriously. You don't write genre cream-puff songs. You write from character."
The full cast, which welcomes back much of the original Williamstown company, includes J.B. Adams (Parade, Beauty & the Beast, Me & My Girl on Broadway; Annie Warbucks Off-Broadway; the film "Far From Heaven"), Marinda Anderson (From the Inside, Out at NY Fringe Festival; Freedom Train for TheatreWorks USA), Olivier Award nominee Nancy Anderson (Wonderful Town, A Class Act on Broadway; Kiss Me, Kate in London; Yank! Off-Broadway), Elainey Bass (Radio City Christmas Spectacular), Obie Award winner Quincy Tyler Bernstine (In the Next Room on Broadway; Ruined at MTC), Justin Scott Brown (Les Misérables, Spring Awakening national tours), Obie Award winner Alma Cuervo (PH's The Heidi Chronicles and Isn't It Romantic?; Titanic, Cabaret, Women on the Verge… on Broadway), Korey Jackson (Wild with Happy at The Public; "Homeland"), Jake Lucas (Newsies), James Moye (Million Dollar Quartet, Ragtime, White Christmas on Broadway; Happiness Off-Broadway), Julianna Rigoglioso (Pippi Longstocking Off-Broadway; Mary Poppins national tour), Sarah Jane Shanks (Wicked, Promises Promises, Shrek, Wonderful Town, The Apple Tree on Broadway), Tess Soltau (The Addams Family on Broadway; Into the Woods for The Public/Shakespeare in the Park), Mary Stout (Cather County at PH; Jane Eyre, Beauty & the Beast, Me & My Girl on Broadway) and Victor Wallace (Mamma Mia! on Broadway, Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera national tours).
Far From Heaven was commissioned, developed and produced through the Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative, with leadership support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The musical has scenic design by Tony Award nominee Allen Moyer, costume design by five-time Tony Award winner Catherine Zuber, lighting design by Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, projection design by Peter Nigrini and orchestrations by Tony Award winner Bruce Coughlin. Musical director is Lawrence Yurman and production stage manager is Judith Schoenfeld. Alex Sanchez is the choreographer.
For tickets visit PlaywrightsHorizons.org.
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