A revised version of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, a 1987 musical based on the Mordecai Richtler novel and film, is getting an open-to-the-public staged reading at the Off-Broadway York Theatre Company 2 and 7 PM December 11.
The musical has an original score by Alan Menken, the Tony- and Oscar-winning composer of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Newsies, and other Disney musicals. He's currently represented on Broadway by Aladdin, which was adapted to the stage from the Disney animated film, and by A Bronx Tale. Lyrics for Duddy Kravitz are by David Spencer, who has also written a new libretto. Spencer and Menken collaborated on the Off-Broadway musical Weird Romance.
The reading stars Lincoln Clauss (Burn All Night) as Duddy, with key supporting roles played by Jim Brochu (Drama Desk winner for Zero Hour), Gerry Vichi (Something Rotten!), and James Judy (Into the Woods). The readings are open to the public with a $10 advance reservation fee for each reading (free for York Theatre’s Plus members; $5 for York Theatre members). Reservations can also be made on the day of the reading (pending availability) for a suggested $5 donation in person at the box office.
This version of the musical had a full production in June 2015 in Montreal, Canada, where the story is set. Four actors from that version will appear in the reading: Marie-Pierre de Brienne (The Sound of Music) as Yvette Durelle, Sam Rosenthal (Beauty and the Beast), and Michael Esposito II (Spring Awakening). They are also heard on the cast album of that production.
The musical was first presented in Philadelphia as part of the 1987 American Music Theatre Festival, but did not continue on to Broadway. Menken wrote the first version of the score for Duddy between Little Shop of Horrors and Little Mermaid, and continued to work on it after the Philadelphia production. Evan Pappas, who has played the title role in previous readings, has returned to stage this reading.
Spencer told Playbill that he has rewritten the show from the ground up, with “a handful” of songs remaining from the Philadelphia version, “and most of those altered in shape. Quite literally, and in every practical and artistic sense, the Philadelphia version had become another show with the same title.”
Spencer said he has stuck with the show for all these years because, “It’s one of those rare stories that get under your skin and speak to you and your sensibility at a gut level, such that you have to work on it. And we’ve never doubted how special the show is. In spite of everything, putting Duddy Kravitz in the drawer and walking away was never an option.”
Also in the New York cast: Daniel Marcus, Brennan Caldwell, Ray Bokhour, Jeff Irving, Savannah Frazier, George Merrick, and Tracy Sallows.
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (which was published in 1959 and became a film starring Richard Dreyfus in 1974) is about a young man in 1950s Montreal whose drive and ambition threatens his relationships even as those qualities enable him to aid those he loves in their times of need.