Finian Dies, The Dead Lives, at L.A.'s Ahmanson, July 19

News   Finian Dies, The Dead Lives, at L.A.'s Ahmanson, July 19
James Joyce's The Dead will take the place of Finian's Rainbow at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, July 11-Sept. 3.

James Joyce's The Dead will take the place of Finian's Rainbow at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, July 11-Sept. 3.

The Burton Lane-E.Y. Harburg musical was to have played the theatre this summer, but cancelled its plans when the necessary funds couldn't be drummed up.

The Dead recently ended a short run at Broadway's Belasco Theatre, closing despite being nominated for several awards. The Dead will officially open at the Ahmanson July 19.

Broadway cast members told Playbill On-Line they had been told this week that L.A. was a possibility but as of April 28 offers had not been made. Richard Nelson penned the book, adapted or wrote lyrics and directed The Dead, which has music by Shaun Davey.

The L.A. stand is a special engagement, not a national tour. *

As first reported on Playbill On-Line, the hoped-for revival of the 1947 musical fantasy, Finian's Rainbow, will not shine at the Ahmanson Theatre this summer and a Broadway future is "a big question mark," according to producer Rodger Hess.

The reason has to do with that proverbial pot o' gold.

Hess told Playbill On-Line he was not able to raise the needed capitalization for both the summer run and the planned Broadway run in fall. A Broadway theatre had not been announced, but a hope to open there in fall had been.

A design team was already in place, and some cast members had signed for the summer run. The cast was told of the scuttling of the production over the past week.

The July 12-Sept. 3 Ahmanson run was never in the show's original plan, Hess said, but came about when the summer run of the pre-Broadway musical, The Night They Raided Minsky's, fell through at that venue. That show has been postponed, due to the death of director Mike Ockrent.

Hess said that despite the golden score of Finian's Rainbow, which includes the song hits "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?," "Old Devil Moon," "Look to the Rainbow," and "If This Isn't Love," some investors may have been nervous about the play's racism themes, which were considered groundbreaking in 1947.

The book of the musical, originally by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy, has been modified by Peter Stone for this incarnation, and was tested to solid reviews in Miami and Cleveland in fall 1999. That tryout staging was directed by Lonny Price, who would have helmed the continuing summer fall production.

The work of lyricist Harburg and composer Burton Lane is cherished by musical comedy buffs for its consistently playful, melody-rich quality. Audiences in Miami cheered the show from the first performances, according to a press rep there.

"I've never had trouble raising in money in the past," said producing vet Hess, who said he thought there may have been "lingering doubts" from potential investors about the show's thematic content. In the musical, a leprechaun follows an Irishman and his daughter to a mythical Southern state in America where they become involved in a community overseen by a racist senator. Love prevails, but social satire is very much a part of the mix.

The original hope was to open the show in New York City in the first few months of 2000. The lack of a Broadway house in spring 2000 and in the coming months also did not encourage investors, Hess said.

Is there any hope for this Finian's Rainbow?

"There always is," Hess said.

But for now, he admitted, the pot of gold isn't big enough.

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