Wildhorn's Moon Won't Rise Over NC; Creators in Talks for Future

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08 Mar 2007

Frank Wildhorn
Frank Wildhorn
Photo by Beth Kelly
North Carolina Theatre announced that it will stage Chess this summer instead of Waiting for the Moon, the new Frank Wildhorn-Jack Murphy musical about F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Broadway-aimed Jazz Age-set musical about the lives of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald and his love, Zelda, has music by Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel), book and lyrics by Jack Murphy and story by Vincent Marini and Murphy.

Marini was to direct the July 14-22, run, as he did the developmental world premiere in summer 2005 at the Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center in Marlton, NJ, where he is artistic director.

Marini told Playbill.com March 6, "We [Frank and Jack and I] decided that despite North Carolina's best efforts, they were simply not ready to do a new musical on the scale that this show required. We are so pleased with the recently completed rewrites and with the future prospects of the piece, that our first priority must be to protect the property. We are very thankful to North Carolina for their interest in the show, and we wish them all the success in the world with their production of Chess."

The creators "are currently in negotiations with a number of major regional theatres across the country, and we hope to have an announcement shortly," Marini added.



Marini said that Jarrod Emick and Lauren Kennedy, who appeared in the New Jersey staging as Scott and Zelda, have read the rewrites and "are more committed to the show now than ever."

Marini enthused, "I think this is Frank and Jack's best work to date."

The project is Broadway-aimed, and has major creative/design names attached: Howell Binkley (lighting), Ron Melrose (musical director), Andy Blankenbuehler (choreography), Kim Scharnberg (orchestrations), Rob Odorisio (scenic design), Janine McCabe (costume design) and Michael Clark (projections).

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Marini, Wildhorn and Murphy recently worked on a re-tooled version of the Tony-nominated musical, The Civil War, now called For the Glory, that was installed into the Majestic Theatre in Gettysburg, PA, for a summer 2006 run.

Here's how NCT billed Waiting for the Moon: "Don't miss being a part of NCT history as Frank Wilhorn's Waiting for the Moon makes its pre-Broadway debut on our stage for you! This American love story is set during the Jazz Age as 'The Great Gatsby' novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald and wife, Zelda, experience the rise and fall of success."

Waiting for the Moon was previously titled Scott & Zelda: The Other Side of Paradise.

The 2005 staging of Waiting for the Moon marked the first world premiere for the then four-year-old Lenape center, a 1,500-seat presenting and producing house which operates June-October.

Emick appeared in Broadway's Damn Yankees revival (taking home a Tony Award for playing the star ballplayer Joe Hardy), The Boy From Oz and The Rocky Horror Show. Kennedy played Nellie Forbush in Trevor Nunn's South Pacific in London, and appeared in Broadway's Side Show and Sunset Blvd. (also the national tour).

Composer Wildhorn and lyricist-librettist Jack Murphy previously teamed on Broadway's The Civil War (Murphy was credited as one of the project's three authors, with Gregory Boyd and Wildhorn), which also toured in a leaner conceptual concert version.

Wildhorn and Murphy have also written the musical Vienna — The Last Waltz. Wildhorn's Broadway musicals include Dracula, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Jekyll & Hyde.

Marini previously told Playbill.com, "In a lot of ways [Waiting for the Moon] it does have the feel of an old-fashioned book musical, but the method of storytelling is a very modern and cinematic. It's a uniquely American love story about two people who really did have a storybook love affair, but made the decision to become celebrities — and how their relationship changes because of that."

Marini said the work is not strict Fitzgerald biography, although it does draw on specific incidents in the life of the couple. "We don't confine ourselves to their lives," he explained. "It's about two people who fall in love and what celebrity does to their love — and it's about second chances."

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was the hot Jazz Age novelist who wrote "This Side of Paradise," "The Beautiful and Damned," "The Great Gatsby," "Tender Is the Night" and "The Last Tycoon." His wife, Zelda, slipped into madness. New York and the French Riviera were their playgrounds.

The musical style of the show "is very different for Frank," Marini said. Don't expect the driving pop of Jekyll & Hyde. "He channels Cole Porter, Gershwin, Irving Berlin…"

It's also a "high-energy dance show" with ensemble numbers.

"We think this has the potential of being a Broadway show, but we're looking now at making it the best to can be, and learning from it," Marini said. "If we do a great show…a future will follow."

The 2005 cast included Ben Dibble as Ben Cameron (The Reporter), Sean Palmer (as Edouard), Leslie Alexander (as Mrs. Sayer) and Matt Wall, Jessica Lea Patty, Mike McGowan, Jordan Cable, Terri Dixon, Alison Cimmet, Tim Federle, Keith Kuhl, Rachel Bress, Kristin Piro, Brandi Wooten, Nova Bergeron and Scott Greer.

Marini met Wildhorn through an association with singer Linda Eder, who sang in concert in the first season at Lenape in 2002. A concert version of Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde debuted at Lenape in 2004. After the success of J&H there, Wildhorn mentioned the Scott and Zelda project to Marini and discussions led to the full staging.