The casting of the new musical by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman and directed by Harold Prince has come fast and furious in the past couple days. Just 24 hours after Richard Kind and Howard McGillin were confirmed as having been offered the two leads in Gold!, which is set to debut in Chicago next summer, word comes that Faith Prince has joined the ensemble.
A show spokesman confirmed that Prince would play the brassy romantic interest for McGillin's character, promoter Addison Mizner. The show's other major female character, Mother Mizner, has not been cast.
Faith Prince's character did not exist until Harold Prince joined the project. "The very first thing I said," Prince told PBOL, "was 'Where are the girls, for God's sake?' I felt like Florenz Ziegfeld for the first time in my career. 'Where's the sex?'" The show will be Faith Prince's second original musical in a row. She is currently starring in Ahrens and Flaherty's A Man of No Importance at Lincoln Center Theater. Gold! will be Prince's first significant foray into the world of Sondheim.
Kind and McGillin have been asked to play the eccentric, real-life brothers Wilson and Addison Mizner. The Mizners were regarded as risk-taking gamblers who ended up as real-estate developers in Florida. Settings in the musical have included Alaska, California, New York City and Boca Raton, FL, which the brothers helped found.
Nathan Lane and Victor Garber played the Mizners in a 1999 Off Broadway workshop that did not result in an immediate full staging. Kind was recently seen on Broadway in Tale of the Allergist's Wife. He is best known from the sitcom "Spin City." McGillin is a musical theatre veteran who is currently playing the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. His past roles include Anything Goes, She Loves Me and As Thousands Cheer.
The creators of the show are busy polishing a new version of the script, which Prince calls "robust" and "bold."
The show will begin performances at Chicago's Goodman Theater on June 20, 2003. Opening will be on June 30. The run will last until July 26.
Harold Prince told Playbill On-Line that casting and the selection of a choreographer will be addressed toward the end of the year.
"We're working hard," said Prince. "We've got the show 95 percent finished. It's a very bold, raw, invigorating experience, this show. It's very up, a kind of a look at those times in American history that were pioneer times — the Roaring '20s. There was such gutsiness and gusto in the way people lived. It all adds up ultimately to innocence."
Prince said that the nature of the score had changed since the failed 1999 workshop at New York Theatre Workshop, when Sam Mendes was the director and the musical was called Wise Guys. At the time, the score was said to have featured presentational, vaudeville pastiche numbers.
"It's robust. Put it that way," Prince said of the music. "There are a couple numbers in that score that are as good as anything Steve's ever written. We haven't thrown those out, you can be sure. The show is bold and broad. Most of it is new."
Asked what had convinced him to take over direction of the piece, Prince explained: "I was sort of like somebody watching from a distance. At the time, I didn't know why it was being done or what it was about it that fascinated them all. When the workshop was over, Steve and John said, 'Can we come and just talk about it? Maybe you'll have some insights.' They came and we just talked about it, and in the course of talking a number of times, I found myself getting really interested in a show. Not the one they had done, but a show.
"That whole tumbling through America," he continued, "which is not what that show was about, is very alluring. It's America, the pioneer place, where people reinvent themselves; where you stumble and get up, dust yourself off and go through another door. All of that stuff seemed so vital to me. None of that did I see in that version. It's a different show completely now. They're doing a very courageous thing. They're willing to tear it up and start again."
Prince and Sondheim have not worked together on a new show since 1981's Merrily We Roll Along, which was recently given a concert reading in New York City. At the end of the event, which featured much of the original cast, Sondheim and Prince appeared on stage and hugged.
To view Playbill On-Line's entire conversation with Prince, click Brief Encounter.