In his letter to Colorado's Denver Center patrons, printed in the season brochure, executive director Randy Weeks writes that he's "holding time after the new year for a new musical, currently being developed by Denver Center Productions in cooperation with the Harold Prince Musical Theatre Program."
That musical will be Eliot Ness In Cleveland, based on a play by Peter Ullian. The musical, co-adapted and directed by Nick Corley, has a book by Ullian, and music & lyrics by Robert Lindsey Nassif. Ness pits the "untouchable" G-man against the ghost of Al Capone in an edgy, Brechtian way.
Prince has a good track record at the Denver Center; the tour of Show Boat, directed by him, has extended its stay at the Buell through June 14.
Some of Broadway's splashiest musicals will make their way to the Denver Center as part of the Denver Center Attractions season. Disney's Beauty And The Beast begins the season July 18. Based on the Disney animated film, the national tour of B&B will play at the Buell Theatre through Aug. 31.
Kim Huber, a member of the original Broadway company, will play Belle; Fred Inkley (Les Miz) will be the Beast, and Tony Lawson will play Gaston. Other cast members include Jeff Brooks, Grant Cowan, Barbara Marineau, Patrick Page, Sherry Anderson, Asher Book, Mindy Paige Davis, Dan Sklar and Tommy John Skleros. Robert Jess Roth directs, with choreography by Matt West and sets by Stan Meyer. Ann Hould-Ward designed the costumes; Natasha Katz the lighting.
Next up will be Smokey Joe's Cafe, a revue of the 50s-60s pop songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Tunes include "Jailhouse Rock," "On Broadway" and "Love Potion #9." The show runs Sept. 9-21. Nov. 11-23 will see 1981's Dreamgirls, the Tony-winning musical about girl-groups of the 1960s, penned by Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger.
The national touring company of the Tony-winning, Christopher Renshaw directed The King and I runs Dec. 10-Jan. 4, 1998. The tour stars Hayley Mills, perky child star of 1960s family films including The Trouble With Angels and the pre-Andrew Lloyd Webber movie version of Whistle Down the Wind, as Mrs. Anna. Vee (Victor) Talmadge stars as The King.
The production won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Revival, and won Tonys for Best Actress (Donna Murphy), Best Costumes (Roger Kirk) and Best Scenic Design (Brian Thomson). The latter two were members of the original Australian design team. Along with lighting designer Nigel Levings, the team has remounted the production for this tour. Broadway Choreographer Lar Lubovitch uses passages from Jerome Robbins' original 1951 choreography, and has created some new staging of his own.
As for the regular Denver Center season, plays upcoming include Leslie Ayvazian's Nine Armenians, which recently won a special Outer Critics Circle Award. That production will be imported in September from L.A.'s Mark Taper Forum. (Which finishes an exchange between the companies that started when 1995's Black Elk Speaks visited the Taper).
In December, Arena Stage of Washington DC will bring O'Neill's A Touch Of The Poet to Denver in exchange for It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues, which played in DC earlier this year.
Five plays will make up this season's "Generation Series" for family audiences:
The Servant Of Two Masters, Carlo Goldoni's comedy, newly translated and adapted by former critic Sylvie Drake.
Valley Song, Athol Fugard's look at post-apartheid South Africa.
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson's adventure tale adapted and directed by Nagle Jackson.
Don Quixote, Cervantes' picaresque novel adapted by Pavel Dobrusky.
A Christmas Carol, the Dickens classic.
Also on tap for Denver Center's 1997-98 season will be Shaw's Misalliance, A.R. Gurney's comedy, Sylvia; August Wilson's Jitney (recently staged at NJ's Crossroads Theatre); Nagle Jackson's drama, Taking Leave; Shakespeare's Macbeth and a new translation of Pedro Calderon's Life Is A Dream.
Currently playing at the Denver Center is David Hare's Racing Demon, which began previews May 8 and opens May 15. Fables, an experimental collaboration between Pavel Dobrusky and Per-Olav Sorensen, who previously worked together on Beethoven `n' Pierrot.
For tickets and information on shows at the Denver Center, call (303) 893-4100 or (800) 641-1222 outside Denver.
--By David Lefkowitz