Playing a cat on Broadway for four years is nice work if you can get it. Well, Liz Callaway did get it, but she's taking a break from her Grizabella duties to appear in The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm, a revue of hits by George and Ira Gershwin that closes Hartford Stage's 33rd season in Connecticut. The show runs May 10-June 15 and opens officially May 16.
Artistic director Mark Lamos has collaborated with Mel Marvin on the project, which features choreography by David Marques (The Return Of Martin Guerre at Chicago's Goodman Theatre). Songs in the show include "Strike Up The Band," "Someone To Watch Over Me," "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off," "Embraceable You," and "Nice Work If You Can Get It." Said managing director Stephen J. Albert of the project, "Mark [Lamos] has an impressive string of successes in the opera world, including Paul Bunyan at Glimmerglass Opera and Wozzeck at the Metropolitan Opera. It is exciting that The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm will allow Mark to again share his gift for musical theatre with Hartford audiences."
Appearing with Callaway in the show are Beth Leavel (Show Boat), Mary Bond Davis (Scapin at the Roundabout), Darius de Haas (Rent), Sebastian LaCause (Once Upon A Mattress), James Barbour (Carousel on Broadway), Stephanie Pope (Smokey Joe's Cafe in London), John MacInnes (Guys And Dolls) and Angela Maiz (Joseph... in Canada).
"The songs have been arranged to create little mini-events," says production spokesperson Jenni French. "It's not a straight revue format. For example, one section covers loneliness, where "The Man I Love" and "Soon" are juxtaposed. Sometimes songs are melded to create a major "event." All the songs let Lamos use his gift for visualizing music -- almost a la a music video. The narrative drama and feelings of each number come out theatrically. And putting all these talented people in the same room...they're just inspiring one another and it's wonderful to watch."
French says it's too early to say what will happen with Rhythm if the reviews are good, nor has she heard of any plans to record the show at this point. Lamos, Hartford Stage's artistic director since 1980, holds honorary doctorates from Trinity College, Connecticut College and the University of Hartford. He's worked at Moscow's Pushkin Drama Theatre, San Francisco Opera, Sweden's Stora Theatre and the Munich Biennale. He won a Tony for directing Our Country's Good on Broadway.
Marvin's other current projects include Elmer Gantry (with John Bishop and Bob Satuloff), Joan Of Arc and The Perfect 36. This winter he and David Chambers wrote the Off-Broadway musical, The Portable Pioneer And Prairie Show.
For tickets ($25.50-$40) and information on The Gershwin's Fascinating Rhythm call Hartford Stage at (860) 527-5151.