Russell & Krieger's Musical, Everything's Ducky, Is Now Lucky Duck, Getting New Wings at Old Globe
By Kenneth Jones
Everything's Ducky, the popular regional musical about an ugly duckling who becomes a supermodel swan, has been plucked and refeathered by its creators, librettist Jeffrey Hatcher, librettist-lyricist Bill Russell and composer Henry Krieger.
Russell told Playbill On-Line March 15 "at least" one-third of the show is new, particularly in the second act. The changes were prompted by Rando's participation in the last year.
Lyricist and co-librettist Russell said, "When I saw Urinetown Off-Broadway [in spring 2001] I went home and called Henry and said, 'We have got to get this director for this show.' It took a while..."
The changes include new songs, revised songs and the cutting of songs, plus new scene work. The writers strengthened the characters and story, Russell said. Rando has already directed a reading of Lucky Duck.
"In the process of writing this, the world changed a lot, especially because of 9/11, and the new version reflects that," Russell said.
It's still about "the ugly who transforms into the swan, who becomes the hottest supermodel in the kingdom — and then the world falls apart," Russell said, adding that references to 9/11 are not overt.
Although inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story, "The Ugly Duckling," Lucky Duck is all original.
Russell always wondered of the original fairy tale, "What happened after the swan blossomed?"
Russell explained, "The whole idea of becoming beautiful and being celebrated for that is the flip side of being ugly: You're still defined by your looks. Wanting to be beautiful and famous are narcissistic concerns and our characters find they have to engage in the world a little more — because if they don't, it won't matter if they're beautiful."
Following previews, opening is set for July 16 at San Diego's Old Globe, the launch pad for The Full Monty and the Broadway-Bound Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Costume design will be by Gregg Barnes. Sam Davis will music-direct. Orchestrations are by Harold Wheeler. Choreographer is Casey Nicholaw. Russell said David McDonald, who originated role of Wolf in January 2000, will likely reprise the role.
Since the 2000 world premiere of Everything's Ducky at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA, the show was seen in a slightly revised form in a three-city co production by LaMirada Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
A production was also licensed for performance at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL.
Henry Krieger and Bill Russell are known for their serious minded Broadway musical, Side Show. Director Gip Hoppe directed the world premiere of Everything's Ducky.
"It's about acquiring self-esteem, taking each day with a plucky attitude, and not letting anyone make you feel like you aren't good enough," Krieger, who also wrote tunes to Dreamgirls, said in earlier production notes.
Everything's Ducky first starred Angela Robinson (Paper Mill Playhouse's Dreamgirls) as Serena and Michael McEachran (Broadway's Little Me) as Prince Drake. The first company included Gina Ferrall, Danny Burstein, Karen Murphy, J.B. Wing, Andrea Chamberlain, David McDonald, Josh Prince and Bobby Daye.
Krieger is no stranger to musicals with feathered characters at their core: He composed Love's Fowl, a "multi-media puppet opera" at Off Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop in 1998. Original Cast Records preserved the spoofy operatic score on disc.
The concept of that show concerned a scholar on the life of Chicken Little who discovers "The Secret Diaries of La Pulcina Piccola," a revelatory document scratched into bark, leaves, and paper. According to creators Susan Vitucci and Krieger, there was much, much more to Chicken Little's story than the disastrous "the sky is falling" incident. Much of Love's Fowl concerns Pulcina's romances, adventures out west and out-foxing of a fox.
Russell is a co-creator of the musical, Pageant. Playwright Hatcher penned Scotland Road, Three Viewings, Compleat Female Stage Beauty and the libretto to the short-lived Broadway musical, Never Gonna Dance.
For more information, visit www.theoldglobe.org.
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