Less than a week after the death of Finian's Rainbow composer Burton Lane in January, Goodspeed Opera House announced that the 1947 musical would be the first production of the Connecticut theatre's 1997 season.
Gabriel Barre, who directed Goodspeed's 1996 revival of Sweeney Todd will stage Finian, which begins previews April 2, opens April 25 and runs through July 4.
Spokesperson Jennifer Wislocki said the revival of Finian's Rainbow had been in the works since fall 1996, and that Lane had attended a reading in November.
With lyrics by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg and book by Fred Saidy, the show tells the unlikely story of an Irish leprechaun who pursues the man who stole his magical crock o' gold, and winds up in the mythical state of Missitucky, where thief and leprechaun get involved in helping poor black sharecroppers fight a racist senator. The score includes "How Are Things in Glocca Mora," "Look To the Rainbow," "Devil Moon," “When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love,” “Something Sort of Grandish,” “The Begat,” “Necessity,” “When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich,” and “This Time of the Year.”
James Judy plays Finian, the ambitious rogue who steals the crock. He’s appear in Into the Woods and Maury Yeston’s 1-2-3-4-5 in New York, and The Gig at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre. Erin Dilly plays his daughter Sharon. Robert Creighton plays Og, the leprechaun who has to cope with the challenges of gradually turning human.
Jennifer Paulson Lee choreographed. Sets are by James Youmans, and Phil Monat is designing the lighting, which includes the crock’s magical trick of turning the racist white senator into a black man in full view of the audience.
The rest of the 1997 Goodspeed mainstage season will consist of two new musicals, a revue of 1930s-40s pop songs titled Lucky in the Rain, and an original book musical, Houdini, about the life of the legendary illusionist and escape artist. It's the first time new musicals have been offered as so large a part of a Goodspeed mainstage season in East Haddam, CT.
The Lucky in the Rain revue begins previews July 9 and runs through Sept. 19. The show highlights the songs of Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson. The Sherman Yellen (The Rothschilds) book showcases songs including "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street."
Houdini has a score by William Scott Duffield, with a book by James Racheff (Abyssinia). The show begins previews Sept. 24 and opens Dec. 14. Coincidentally, Houdini is also a character in the musical Ragtime, which is expected to be opening on Broadway around the time Houdini is concluding its Goodspeed run.
Single tickets cost $19-$36. For information and tickets: (860) 873-8668.
-- By Robert Viagas