New Adaptation of Bless You All! Musical Revue, With Emilee Dupre, Jeremy Benton and More, Begins Sept. 19
By Michael Gioia
UnsungMusicalsCo. (UMC) presents a new Off-Broadway production of the 1950 musical revue Bless You All!, featuring sketches by Emmy Award winner Arnold Auerbach ("The Phil Silvers Show," Call Me Mister) and a score by songwriter Harold Rome (Fanny, Destry Rides Again), beginning Sept. 19, prior to an official opening Sept. 22.
Directed by UMC artistic director Ben West (The Fig Leaves Are Falling, At Home Abroad), the limited three-week engagement runs through Oct. 5 at The Connelly Theatre.
The cast features Jeremy Benton (Anything Goes), Jennifer Lee Crowl (Young Frankenstein), Ruth Pferdehirt, Lindsay Roberts (Memphis), Billie Wildrick (Scandalous), Emilee Dupre (Venice, Chaplin), Jacob Hoffman (I'll Be Damned), Aaron Kaburick (Billy Elliot), Brent McBeth (White Christmas), Christopher Ryan (Young Frankenstein) and Clifton Samuels (Follies).
Here's how the production is billed: "Brimming with jazz-infused melodies, song-and-dance specialties and classic comedy numbers, Bless You All! is a cheerful celebration of the Golden Age of the Broadway revue. Delicious send-ups of such cultural icons as the 21 Club and the roaring '20s line the landscape of this glittering entertainment!"
UMC's newly adapted production of Bless You All! marks the first time the musical has been performed in over 60 years. The company has gathered the original manuscript material from various archival collections and has used it to create a fresh take on the classic revue, which features the addition of a never-before-seen comedy sketch written circa 1940 by Auerbach and Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk (The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial).
Other members of the creative team includes choreographer Ray Hesselink, musical director and arranger Fran Minarik, lighting designer Joe Hodge and costume designer Heather J. Carey.
UMC will offer two post-show events. "Putting It Together," a discussion about researching and assembling material for lost musical works, will be held following the Sept. 25 performance. It will feature The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Doug Reside, Tony Award-nominated writer and lyricist Dick Scanlan and UMC artistic director Ben West as panelists, plus a special live performance of two cut songs from Bless You All! "Yesterday is Tomorrow," a discussion of how the Golden Age has influenced emerging and contemporary writers, will be held following the Oct. 2 performance. Bruce Pomahac from the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization is the special guest. UMC associate producer Ben Coleman will moderate the discussions.
The Connelly Theatre is located at 220 East 4th Street. For more information and tickets, call (212) 868-4444 or visit UnsungMusicals.org.
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