As reported by Playbill On-Line in early July, when Kerry Butler, who plays Belle in Broadway's Beauty And The Beast, leaves the show in September, filling her shoes will be Deborah Gibson, actress and pop star.
Though Gibson's most recent vehicle, a revival of Funny Girl, closed prematurely on the road, the young actress had been considering a return to Broadway in September. At first, speculation put her as the lead candidate for an upcoming revival of The Sound Of Music, but that rumor fell through when her spokesperson, David Salidor, said she would instead be going into a "long-running musical."
A source close to the production told Playbill On-Line, Gibson would likely be in the show for eight months. She begins Sept. 24.
Gary Beach, who played Dorothy Loudon's philandering hubby in City Center's "Encores!" edition of Sweet Adeline, returned to Broadway March 12 in the Tony-nominated role he originated on stage -- Lumiere, the Chevalieresque candelabrum. Other cast members in Beauty And The Beast (as of Aug. 19) include Harrison Beal (LeFou), Tim Jerome (Maurice), Gibby Brand (Cogsworth), Christopher Monteleone (Gaston), Chuck Wagner (The Beast), Kerry Butler (Belle), and Beth Fowler (Mrs. Potts).
Previous theatrical ventures for Gibson include the London mounting of Grease! (as Sandy) and Broadway's Les Miserables (as Eponine). Gibson has sold ten million albums and is busy working on her own musical, Skirts. That show is based on a screenplay that almost, but didn't quite, get made. Since that screenplay was by Richard LaGravenese -- author of the Streisand film hit, The Mirror Has Two Faces -- and since Gibson is receiving engineering and production help on the project from Steve Skinner, the burner under Skirts seems to have been turned up a notch. The New York Post reported that Kenny Ortega, who was to have directed the film back in 1989, has been mentioned as possible director of the show. Skirts has overtones of West Side Story and 1980's hip-hop films. It's about a girl from Scarsdale who helps girl-gangs settling their differences via a huge dance contest.
Gibson's spokesperson David Salidor told Playbill On-Line that Skirts should eventually come to Broadway, though it may not start there. "She's been working on it nine years, we're not gonna rush it now. Originally Dawn Steel, when she was running Columbia, approached Gibson to appear in the movie, which was a strongly green-lighted project." When Steel left the company (which had been bought by Sony) the project went into turn-around, but Gibson continues to work on it and has over 35 songs written to date.
A Playbill On-Line reader attended seminars Gibson gave at the Learning Annex and said the actress performed a song from Skirts called "Dance the Dream," "which the character Bernadette sings in a subway. Deborah's character is Betty Bonatello." Gibson also told seminar attendees she'll be appearing in, and writing the score for, the film, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend.