Taymor Releases Production Details On Green Bird; Show Bows April 18 at Cort

By Murdoch McBride
28 Jan 2000

Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal.
Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal.

Two-time Tony Award winner Julie Taymor has issued a comprehensive statement detailing several casting and creative choices for her production of Carlo Gozzi's classic Italian fable, The Green Bird.

Two-time Tony Award winner Julie Taymor has issued a comprehensive statement detailing several casting and creative choices for her production of Carlo Gozzi's classic Italian fable, The Green Bird.

The director's first Broadway show since Disney's The Lion King, Green Bird will feature music by Taymor's long time partner and collaborator, composer Elliot Goldenthal.

Production sources described the story -- about a king who longs for his lost wife, and brother-and-sister twins searching for their true identities -- as a "wicked comedy of outrageous characters in which fantasy and the truest love meet in a place unlike any ever seen." Taymor has said Green Bird is thoroughly entertaining with a "wonderful grotesquery and poetry to it -- an edgy bawdiness."

This is Taymor's second New York production of Green Bird. Her first debuted to critical acclaim at Off-Broadway's New Victory Theatre in spring 1996. That Theatre for a New Audience production played just 15 performances and garnered Derek Smith an OBIE award for acting. Following the New Victory Theatre's limited engagement, Green Bird ran successfully at the La Jolla Playhouse.



Translated by Albert Bermel & Ted Emery, the Broadway production of Green Bird will begin previews April 1 at the Cort Theatre. The show opens April 18. Producers for the show are Ostar Enterprises and Theatre for a New Audience, where Jeffrey Horowitz is the artistic director, as well as Nina Lannan.

Set to appear in the cast are Reg E. Cathy, Edward Hibbert, Katie MacNichol, Kristine Nielsen, Sophia Salguero, Derek Smith, Bruce Turk, Erico Villanueva and Andrew Weems. The remainder of the cast will be announced shortly, and production sources indicate that negotiations are ongoing with Didi Conn, Ned Eisenberg and Sebastian Roche. The director/choreographer has been casting the upcoming Broadway show for several weeks and has consistently indicated a desire to bring back certain members of the 1996 cast.

[Featured in the recent 1996 production of Green Bird were cast members Trellis Stepter, Andrew Weems, Didi Conn, Ned Eisenberg, Myriam Cyr, Sebastian Roche, Bruce Turk, Kristine Nielsen, Priscilla Shanks, Lee Lewis and Erico Villanueva.]

As reported earlier Green Bird is performed with puppets and half masks, and was written by Italian playwright Gozzi in the 18th century. The play follows a pair of orphaned twins, Renzo and Barbarina, who stumble upon fantastical characters like the singing apples and the dancing water while pursuing the mystical "green bird."

The production team for Green Bird comprises scenic designer Christine Jones, costume designer Constance Hoffman and Tony Award winning lighting designer Donald Holder (The Lion King). Taymor will design the masks as well as the puppets.

Taymor's breakthrough collaboration with Elliot Goldenthal,Juan Darien, was produced Off-Broadway in 1988. That production won both taymor and Goldenthal Obie Awards. The show also ran at Lincoln Center Theater in 1996 and was nominated for five Tony Awards in 1997.

Green Bird will run at Broadway's Cort Theatre, located at 138 West 48th Street. Tickets run $45 - $75. For information and tickets call Telecharge at (21) 239-6200 or visit www.telecharge.com beginning Feb. 14; or by visiting the Cort Theatre box office after March 6.

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The following biographical information on the Green Bird company was supplied directly by production sources:

Edward Hibbert (Tartagliona) has appeared on Broadway in Me and My Girl, Alice in Wonderland and Noises Off. His Off Broadway credits include Privates On Parade, My Night with Reg and Gross Indecency, in which he played Oscar Wilde. He starred in Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey in L.A. and New York (Obie and Dramalogue awards). He received a Connecticut Critics Circle Award for The Importance of Being Earnest at the Long Wharf and a Barrymore Award for Love! Valour! Compassion! in Philadelphia. His West End credits include Hamlet (Lindsay Anderson's production),Lend Me a Tenor, The Mystery of Irma Vep and Twelfth Night. On TV, he plays food critic Gil Chesterston on "Frasier" and co-starred on the recent ABC series "Fantasy Island." Film credits include "Everyone Says I Love You," "First Wives Club," "The Paper" and "The Lion King II" (as the voice of Zasu).

Katie MacNichol (Barbarina) has appeared on Broadway in Two Shakespearean Actors and Off-Broadway in The Cider House Rules and The Food Chain. Her many regional theatre credits include King John and The Importance of Being Earnest (McCarter), Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Denver Center), The Matchmaker (Williamstown), All In the Timing(Old Globe), The Glass Menagerie, The Show-Off (Center Stage), Slavs (Center Stage, Yale Rep), Sylvia (Trinity Rep), Arms and the Man (Portland Stage), Hay Fever (Intiman) and Undiscovered Country (Huntington Theatre). She can be seen in the upcoming Spike Lee film "Bamboozled."

Kristine Nielsen (Ninetta) won an Obie Award and Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations for her performance in Betty's Summer Vacation at Playwrights Horizons. She was seen on Broadway in Jackie: An American Life and in The Iceman Cometh, directed by Jose Quintero. Her many Off-Broadway credits include Mac Wellman's Second Hand Smoke and Simon Gray's The Holy Terror. She has been seen at the New York Shakespeare Festival in two productions of Henry V (one with Kevin Kline, the other with Andre Braugher), Dog Opera (Obie Award), Machinal and My Uncle Sam; at New York Theatre Workshop in Love and Anger; at Second Stage in Loose Knit; at Theatre for a New Audience in Measure for Measure and The Green Bird. She has played many roles in regional theatres across the country. Her film and television credits include Woody Allen's Fall '99 project, "Law & Order," "Tales From the Crypt" and PBS' "Live-Off Center."

Sophia Salguero (Apple Soloist) most recently appeared in the national tour of Martin Guerre. She also appeared as Bernadette in Paul Simon's Capeman. Other credits include Julie Taymor's Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass at Lincoln Center and The Green Bird at the New Victory, and played Miss Turnstiles in the New York Shakespeare Festival production ofOn The Town, directed by George C. Wolfe. On national tour, she was seen in Carousel and I Was Looking At the Ceiling. Her film credits include "Diabolique" and "The Substance of Fire."

Derek Smith (Tartaglia) won an Obie Award for his performance in The Green Bird. On Broadway, he was seen in Ring Round The Moon, Getting and Spending, Jackie: An American Life, Timon of Athens and The Government Inspector. His Off-Broadway credits include Cruise Control, Hyde in Hollywood, Ten by Tennessee, Dark Rapture and Sylvia (Drama League and Ovation awards). He has appeared at ART, the Shakespeare Theatre, Center Stage and at the Old Globe. His film credits include "Jungle to Jungle," "The Stand-in" and "Advice from a Caterpillar." On television, he has appeared on "Ryan's Hope" and "The Equalizer" and "Internal Affairs."

Bruce Turk (The Green Bird) was seen on Broadway in Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass. He was seen in The Green Bird at the New Victory and in Julie Taymor's production of Titus Andronicus at Theatre for a New Audience. He was seen in The Tempest, The Rivals, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Macbeth, Don Quixote and Fables at Denver Center Theatre; in The Tempest and Red Noses at the Goodman; and Measure for Measure, Artists & Admirers and Macbeth at New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. He has also been seen at Cincinnati Playhouse, La Jolla and the Remains Theatre.

Andrew Weems (Pantalone) has been seen in New York in Anne Bogart's Marathon Dancing, Joe Dowling's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Quarrel of Sparrows, Fata Morgana, Twelfth Night and in Mud Angel at Theatre for a New Audience. He has performed many roles in regional theatres, appearing in The Adding Machine and Freud at Actors Theatre of Louisville, A Perfect Ganesh and What the Butler Saw at Arena Stage, and Summerfolk,On The Town and Obscene Bird of Night at Trinity Rep. He has also performed in All in the Timing in Vienna and in A Thousand Clowns in Kathmandu.

Julie Taymor directs theatre, opera and film. In addition to winning the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League awards for Best Director of a Musical, she became the first woman ever to win the Tony Award in that category, for The Lion King. She also received myriad awards for her original costume and puppet designs. Taymor made her Broadway debut in 1996 with her production of Juan Darien (Lincoln Center), which was nominated for five 1997 Tony Awards. Other theatre work includes: Titus Andronicus, The Tempest and The Taming of the Shrew (all for Theatre for a New Audience); Juan Darien (Music-Theatre Group); co-adapter and director of The Transposed Heads (Lincoln Center and American Music Theatre Festival) and Liberty's Taken (Castle Hill Festival); designer and choreographer of The King Stag (American Repertory Theatre). Opera direction: The Magic Flute (Maggio Musicale, Florence); Oedipus Rex (Saito Kinen Festival. Japan); Salome (Kirov Opera); The Flying Dutchman (Los Angeles Opera). Film: "Fool's Fire," an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "Hopfrog" for American Playhouse. Taymor's awards include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Emmy for Oedipus Rex, Obie Awards for Visual Magic and for Juan Darien, the Brandeis Creative Arts Award and the International Classical Music Award for Best Opera Production (Oedipus Rex). "Playing With Fire," a book spanning 20 years of Julie Taymor's work, was recently published by Abrams. Her book, "The Lion King: Pride Rock on Broadway," is published by Hyperion. "Titus," her feature film adaptation of Titus Andronicus, recently opened to great critical acclaim.

Elliot Goldenthal (Composer) has created works for orchestra, theatre, opera and film. He has received two Oscar (and two Golden Globe) nominations for his scores for "Interview With The Vampire" (1996) and "Michael Collins" (1996); Grammy nominations for "A Time To Kill" (1996) and "Batman Forever" (1995); and three Chicago Film Critics Award nominations for "Heat" (1997), "Michael Collins" (1996) and "The Butcher Boy," for which Mr. Goldenthal also won the L.A. Film Critics Award (1998). Goldenthal's large scale orchestral piece, "Fire Water Paper" was released in April of 1996 on Sony Classical Records featuring soloist Yo Yo Ma and was later performed in critically acclaimed performances at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. For his original collaboration with director Julie Taymor, Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass in 1988, the two received Obie Awards. In 1996 a new version of Juan Darien opened at Lincoln Center winning rave reviews as well as four Drama Desk and five Tony nominations. Other stage credits include: The Transposed Heads, The King Stag, and Liberty's Taken. Goldenthal has also composed original music for The Green Bird, Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night's Dream (all for Theatre for a New Audience). For the concert stage, Goldenthal was commissioned by the America Ballet Theatre to create a new ballet of Othello, which debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in May of 1997. Other film scores include "In Dreams," "Sphere," "Batman & Robin," "Alien 3," "Cobb," "Drugstore Cowboy" and "Fool's Fire" directed by Julie Taymor for American Playhouse. Goldenthal's current projects are Julie Taymor's "Titus" and an opera based on the old English epic poem "Beowolf" called Grendel.

Christine Jones (Set Designer) has designed many productions in New York, including Turn of the Screw at Primary Stages, Seeking the Genesis at Manhattan Theatre Club, Enter the Night and the short plays Mud and Drowning at Signature Theatre, Phaedra in Delerium at Classic Stage Company, Girl Gone at Manhattan Class Company, Texts for Nothing at New York Shakespeare Festival and The Green Bird with director Julie Taymor at Theatre for a New Audience. Her many regional design credits include productions at The Shakespeare Theatre, A.R.T., The Guthrie, Hartford Stage, Glimmerglass Opera, The Alliance, Williamstown, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Constance Hoffman (Costume Designer) has collaborated with Julie Taymor on the Theatre for a New Audience productions of The Green Bird and Titus Andronicus. Other TFANA credits include Macbeth, Richard II and Richard III, Measure for Measure and Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3. For the Public Theatre, she has designed costumes for Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3. Her regional credits include The Beauty Queen of Leenane for the Alley Theatre in Houston, Tiny Alice and Richard III for Hartford Stage, An Ideal Husband, Days of Absence and A Midsummer Night's Dream at Center Stage, and Corners at Williamstown Theater Festival. She has designed for productions at the Houston Grand Opera, Miami Opera, the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, New York City Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, San Francisco Opera, Virginia Opera and the Manhattan School of Music.

Donald Holder (Lighting Designer) won Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for The Lion King. For Juan Darien, another collaboration with Julie Taymor, he received Tony and Drama Desk nominations. Other Broadway credits include Hughie (American Theatre Wing nomination), Voices in the Dark, Eastern Standard and Holiday. His Off-Broadway credits include Sight Unseen, Three Days of Rain, After Play, Strike Up the Band(City Center/Encores), All My Sons (Roundabout), Communicating Doors, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Spunk (both at NYSF), Avenue X, Richard II/III, Titus Andronicus, The Green Bird, The Changeling, Macbeth (all at Theatre for a New Audience), Jeffrey, Jar the Floor, Pterodactyls and many others. Regionally, he has designed lighting for productions at Hartford Stage, Long Wharf, Goodman, Arena Stage, Seattle Rep, South Coast Rep, La Jolla, American Repertory Theatre, Center Stage, Huntington and many others. Holder also designs lighting for architectural projects such as New York's Sony Plaza and the Swiss Center.