Brent Barrett Is Hollywood Hunk Among Princesses in Musical Reading in NYC, March 15-19

News   Brent Barrett Is Hollywood Hunk Among Princesses in Musical Reading in NYC, March 15-19
Princesses, the new and original musical inspired by the kid-lit favorite, "A Little Princess," will be heard in a private Manhattan reading March 15-19, directed by the project's conceiver and lyricist, David Zippel.
Brent Barrett
Brent Barrett

Brent Barrett, Donna English, Jenny Fellner and Joe Machota play principal roles in the reading, the first fully performed exploration of the material for collaborators Zippel, composer Matthew Wilder and librettists Bill and Cheri Steinkellner.

A presentation at week's end is expected to be an hourlong cutting of the show, Playbill On-Line learned.

Goodspeed Musicals will present the show's world premiere in a developmental run at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT, Nov. 4-28.

For the reading, Brent Barrett (Chicago), Donna English (Goodspeed Musicals' On the 20th Century) and Jenny Fellner and Joe Machota (Mamma Mia!) will be joined by Bridget Barkan, Christy Faber, Mary Faber, Becky Gulsvig, Alexis Krauss, Missy Matherne, Lindsay Mendez, Patti Murin, Shelley Thomas and Lindsay Wilson.

* Screenwriters Bill and Cheri Steinkellner recently found success as writers of the well-reviewed "Teacher's Pet," the new Disney animated picture.

Zippel (City of Angels, The Goodbye Girl, The Woman in White) met the Steinkellners when he was briefly linked (by one meeting) as a potential lyricist on "Teacher's Pet." The direction of the movie shifted and Zippel didn't end up on the project. But he liked the Steinkellners' sensibilities so much that he pitched them the idea for Princesses, a contemporary stage musical that references the classic novel-for-girls, "A Little Princess."

As previously reported by Playbill On-Line, the show has music by Matthew Wilder ("Mulan"), book by the Steinkellners (Emmy Award-winning veteran writers of TV's "Frasier") and lyrics by Zippel ("Mulan," "Hercules"). A cutting of the developing show was seen in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) Festival of New Musicals in September 2003, and there have been refinements since then, Zippel previously said.

A hunky young character (played by Machota) has been added, for example, to punctuate the largely female world of the show.

Princesses is a musical within a musical about a group of "seen-it-all, too-hip-for-their-roommates private school girls" who are forced by an enthusiastic teacher (played by English) to put on a production of Frances Hodgson Burnett's Victorian classic, "A Little Princess."

According to earlier presentation notes about the show, "At the center of Princesses are two father-daughter stories. The contemporary story revolves around 16-year old Miranda Finck (played by Fellner) and her father, superstar Kevin Finch (Brent Barrett) — once Shakespeare in the Park's lauded Henry IV, now People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. Miranda feels dumped in the exclusive Reardon School by her jet-setting father after her mother's death. A 'quality time' visit from Kevin results in his taking charge of the struggling student show with hilarious consequences. Simultaneously we watch the parallel father-daughter story of 'A Little Princess' unfold as the school production progresses from auditions through rehearsals with both stories resolving onstage on opening night."

The idea for the show was Zippel's. He envisions a cast of 14-20. Lyricist Zippel is a Tony Award-winner for City of Angels and a two-time Oscar nominee ("Hercules," "Mulan"). He is also lyricist of the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, The Woman in White.

The Steinkellners produced and wrote seven seasons of "Cheers." Wilder is an Oscar and Grammy nominee who penned the score to Disney's "Mulan" and pop songs for No Doubt, Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Clarkson.

The score contains contemporary pop, sung by the girls, musical comedy numbers and a slightly more traditional sound for the show within a show.


Tom Wopat, Julie Halston and Jenny Fellner appeared in the 2003 NAMT presentation in New York City.

Composer Andrew Lippa is working with lyricist-librettist Brian Crawley on an unrelated adaptation of the novel, "A Little Princess." It has its world premiere Aug. 18 at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA. Susan Schulman directs.


At this time, Goodspeed Musicals tickets for the Norma Terris season are available only by purchasing advance season subscriptions at (860) 873-8668. For more information, visit

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