Off-Broadway Musical Yank! Will Get PS Classics Album With Original Cast
By Adam Hetrick
Yank!, the musical about a young gay American soldier facing first love as he is swept into World War II – which garnered a legion of devotees during its 2010 Off-Broadway run – will be recorded by PS Classics with members of the original cast.
The original musical, which was inspired by the memoirs and oral histories of gay and straight WWII service members, features a book and lyrics by David Zellnik and music by Joseph Zellnik. Yank! premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2005 and played an Off-Broadway run at the York Theatre Company in 2010. It was subsequently announced for a Broadway run during the 2012-13 season.
Despite the musical's popularity among theatregoers (which prompted an extended Off-Broadway run), seven Drama Desk nominations, three Outer Critics Circle nominations and two Lucille Lortel nominations – all including Best Musical, Broadway plans were later canceled.
The musical, which has been revised since its 2010 premiere, will reunite actors from the original York company for the cast album, including Tony Award nominee Bobby Steggert (Ragtime, 110 in the Shade, Big Fish), Ivan Hernandez (Into the Woods), Nancy Anderson (Far From Heaven), Jeffry Denman (White Christmas, Passion), Tally Sessions (Big Fish), Andrew Durand (War Horse), David Perlman (Baby It's You!), Chris Ruth (Happy Days – The Musical), Joe Medeiros (The Blue Flower), Zak Edwards (No, No Nanette!) and Todd Faulkner ("Nurse Jackie").
In addition to support from PS Classics, the creative team is working to raise the remainder of the budget for the cast recording via a Kickstarter campaign, which can be viewed here. PS Classics co-founder Tommy Krasker will produce the album.
David Zellnik told Playbill.com, "The Broadway transfer, of course, didn't happen, but the period following the York run did allow us to continue to refine the book, as well as to write three new songs of which we're enormously proud. This past spring, we brought the completed work to Tommy [Krasker] and Philip [Chaffin] at PS Classics, and they loved it, even more than they had at the York, which felt great! They said yes, and were able to fund a good chunk of the album's production costs, but now we're turning to the fans of the show to help us reach the finish line, money-wise. Yank! is a big show after all – 12 actors, 7 musicians, and a whole lot of music – so we've created a Kickstarter campaign to get fully funded,"
"From the very beginning, Yank! has been a very personal project for us, a true labor of love," added Joseph Zellnik. "Along the way we've been so lucky to gather around us collaborators and supporters who've loved and believed in this material as much as we do. And we're over the moon now to welcome PS Classics into our Yank! family. Yank! couldn't be in better hands!"
Music direction will be by Rob Berman, who has been a part of the Yank! family since its premiere at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2005.
According to the creators, "Yank! is a love song to Hollywood's 'it takes one of every kind' platoon flicks and to 1940's Broadway. The show tells the story of Stu, a scared Midwestern kid who becomes a reporter for (the real) Army magazine Yank, faces his fear in battle, and perhaps even scarier for him, finds love with a fellow soldier named Mitch. With a lively score inspired by the theatre and pop sounds of the 1940's, the show captures the spirit and exuberance of the World War II era even as it explores questions of prejudice, courage and survival."
David Zellnik added, "My brother and I are thrilled Yank! is finally ready to continue its march into the wider world. This is an amazing time for gay people – since the show, there has been an end to Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and the overruling of DOMA, among other things. But while there is still more work to do, I also truly believe it is more important than ever to remember the history of how we as a community got here… the daunting obstacles we faced and the courage ordinary men and women showed. I think it's vital that we remember the stories from the past that too often were erased from history."
A recording date and target release date will be announced shortly.
Founded in 2000 by Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, and an eight-time Grammy nominee (for its cast albums of Assassins, Nine: The Musical, Grey Gardens, Company, A Little Night Music, Sondheim on Sondheim, Follies and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess), PS Classics celebrates the heritage of Broadway and American popular song through award-winning cast recordings; solo albums by such artists as Maureen McGovern, Victoria Clark, Steven Pasquale, Liz Callaway and Christine Andreas; and restorations of long-lost musicals, including Sweet Little Devil, Sweet Bye and Bye and Strike Up the Band 1930. Recent releases include Rebecca Luker’s solo disc "I Got Love (Songs of Jerome Kern)," the world premiere recording of Anthony Rapp’s one-man show, Without You, and the revue Noel and Cole.
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