Chaplin Will Bask in Musical Limelight at La Jolla Playhouse

News   Chaplin Will Bask in Musical Limelight at La Jolla Playhouse
The new La Jolla Playhouse musical about filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, previously reported as untitled, now has a name: Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin.
Limelight co-creators Christopher Curtis and Thomas Meehan
Limelight co-creators Christopher Curtis and Thomas Meehan

The world-premiere production will play LJP's Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, CA, Sept. 7-Oct. 17. Casting and full creative team have not been announced.

The project has its roots in a musical called Behind the Limelight by lyricist-librettist-composer Christopher Curtis. Tony Award winner Thomas Meehan (Annie, Hairspray, The Producers) has joined the team as co-librettist with songwriter Curtis. Michael Unger will direct.

Here's how La Jolla Playhouse characterizes the show: "He came to America an unknown. He left amidst scandals and controversy. In between, Charlie Chaplin became one of the best-loved and most famous entertainers in the world. From the gritty streets and smoky music halls of London to movie screens across the world, Limelight goes behind the camera to show how a comic genius found soaring success and later fell from grace. Limelight provides a moving and delightful close-up on the man who changed motion pictures forever."

Composer, lyricist and writer Curtis has written for television and film and was signed to the Disney Animation Songwriter program. He is currently writing Dave The Musical (based on the Kevin Kline film) with Thomas Meehan for Warner Bros. Theatrical and producer Lauren Shuler Donner.

* Director Unger shepherded earlier developmental presentations of the property, including a bow at New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2006 and a starry fall 2008 reading.

Bryan Perri is the musical director, as he was at NYMF.

Behind the Limelight was also seen in a 2005 reading at New York Stage and Film.

The musical about the legendary British music hall clown who rose to international stardom when he moved to the U.S. and became a silent screen star — and later a writer, director, composer, producer and more — includes the characters of Charlie (between his teen years and adulthood), Older Charlie (in his 60s or 70s), Oona (a hopeful actress and mate), Sydney (Charlie's brother), Hedda Hopper (the famed gossip columnist), Hannah (Charlie's mother), Music Hall MC (who gives Charlie his big break), Mr. Chaplin/Sennett (Charlie's drunkard father and the silent film director, respectively), Mildred (Charlie's first wife), Charlie (as a boy), Sydney (as a boy) and more.

Chaplin's most famous silent pictures include "The Kid," "The Circus," "Modern Times," "City Lights" and "The Gold Rush."

Promotional art for <i>Limelight</i>
Promotional art for Limelight
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