Cast Picked for Rare Cabin in the Sky Staging; Bruce Wood Directs

News   Cast Picked for Rare Cabin in the Sky Staging; Bruce Wood Directs
Casting has been announced for the rare revival of Lynn Root, John Latouche and Vernon Duke's musical fable, Cabin in the Sky, being presented this fall at Lyric Stage in Texas.

The Dallas County musical theatre troupe committed to preserving the American musical will stage the 1940 musical Oct. 6-21, in the Irving Arts Center's Dupree Theater, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd. Irving, TX.

Lyric Stage founding producer Steven Jones has been working with Tony Root, librettist Lynn Root's son and Kay Duke Ingalls, composer Vernon Duke's widow, to recreate the original Broadway script and score.

"Taking a Chance on Love" was a breakout hit from the show, a musical fable populated by African American actors in a time when people of color were not a fully visible and dimensional part of commercial mainstream culture in America.

Cabin in the Sky is "about the tug of war between good and evil in the rural South," according to Lyric Stage. Ethel Waters stopped the show in 1940 with her rendition of "Taking a Chance on Love."

Other songs in composer Duke and lyricist Latouche's score include "In My Old Virginia Home" and the title tune. At Lyric Stage, Eleanor Threatt will lead the cast as the God-fearing Petunia, with Vince McGill as her wayward husband Little Joe. Wilbur Penn plays The Headman (the Devil's son) and Paul Ducet is his nemesis, The Lord's General. Major Attaway, Malcolm Beatty, Charlet Dupar, Ashley Duplechain, Kia Dawn Fulton, Doris Howard, Maurice Johnson, Gabe Lawson and Durant Searcy complete the cast.

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded Lyric Stage its first-ever NEA grant for this production.

Bruce Wood, the acclaimed artistic director and choreographer of the Bruce Wood Dance Company, will make his directorial debut with Lyric Stage's Cabin in the Sky. Musical direction is by Gary Okeson, scenic design is by Wade Giampa, lighting is by Susan A. White and costumes are by Diane Simons.

Bruce Wood began his career at the age of 16 when he left his native Fort Worth on a full scholarship to New York's School of American Ballet under the tutelage of the legendary George Balanchine (who staged the original Cabin in the Sky). After a brief engagement with the New York City Ballet, Wood refined his Balanchine training by dancing four years as a soloist with the San Francisco Ballet. At the age of 21, Wood joined Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal as a principal dancer, and for the next four years performed and taught all over the world. Returning to New York, he danced with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and the Twyla Tharp Dance Company. He assisted in setting Lar Lubovitch pieces for the New York City Ballet and worked with Lubovitch in setting the movement of the Broadway hit Into the Woods.

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Cabin in the Sky might be more widely known for its 1943 film version, directed by Vincente Minnelli. The picture boasted new songs by Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen (including "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe"). The movie was considered the first all-black film musical for general audiences. Lena Horne and Ethel Waters starred.

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