Grové, Von Essen, Rowat, O'Bryan, Stanek to "Get Happy" in NYC Summer Stock Reading

News   Grové, Von Essen, Rowat, O'Bryan, Stanek to "Get Happy" in NYC Summer Stock Reading
Jessica Grové and Max von Essen will assume roles created by Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, respectively, in Manhattan readings of a stage adaptation of the 1950 M-G-M movie musical "Summer Stock."
Jessica Grov
Jessica Grov Photo by Aubrey Reuben has learned casting for the industry invitation-only Aug. 6-7 presentations of Summer Stock, which borrows four songs from the film — including "Get Happy" — and adds ten new songs by composer-lyricist Thomas Tierney and lyricist Jeffrey Haddow. The new libretto is by director Sam Scalamoni and Haddow.

Grové (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Roundabout's Sunday in the Park With George) will be farmer Jane, and Von Essen (Broadway's Les Miz, Dance of the Vampires) will play the showman Joe Ross, who invades her property with his troupers. They'll be joined by Jim Stanek (Broadway's Lestat) as Orville Wingait, Jane's fiancé of four years; Shannon O'Bryan (Broadway's White Christmas) as Jane's stagestruck Sister Abigail; Joanna Glushak (the original Sunday in the Park With George) as the farm's housekeeper Esme; Steve Rosen (Spamalot, Guys and Dolls) as the vaudeville comic Herb; J.B. Adams (Parade, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Orville's domineering father Jasper G. Wingait; and Graham Rowat (White Christmas in major markets, Broadway's LoveMusik, Guys and Dolls, Dracula) as the pompous stage actor Harrison Keith. The ensemble includes Bob Barth (Hank), Evan Harrington (Jeb), Catrice Joseph-Hart, Jeff Kready (Artie), Jennifer Marcum, Michele McConnell and Meegan Midkiff.

The industry-only presentations will be Aug. 6 at 3 PM and Aug. 7 at 1 PM at the New 42nd Street Studios.

Music direction is by Gary Adler (Avenue Q, Altar Boyz).

The reading is being presented by Tim Smith, Kevin & Dorian Corcoran, Skyline Theatre Company and 6th Avenue Productions. Scalamoni and choreographer Kate Swan began collaboration on this project in 2006 and have been in development with Haddow and Tierney since 2007. This will be the first industry presentation. According to the team, "Summer Stock tells the story of a young woman struggling with the family farm when she is invaded by a company of actors launching their Broadway bound musical in her barn. Full of dancing, laughter and romance, Summer Stock brings the classic musical into the 21st century."

In the film, Garland was a frumpy Connecticut farmer who reluctantly let her sister (Gloria De Haven) and her summer-stock actor pals (including Kelly and Phil Silvers) put on a show in their barn. Garland inevitably became the star of the revue-style extravaganza, singing one of her signature movie-musical hits, "Get Happy," by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. The movie score featured songs by a handful of writers including Mack Gordon and Harry Warren and composer-lyricist Saul Chaplin. "Get Happy" was an added specialty, filmed weeks after principal photography had ended; by then, Garland had slimmed down.

Four songs from the film remain in this stage adaptation, including "Get Happy."

Haddow penned Chekhov in Yalta; Tierney's work includes Eleanor and Narnia.

Director Scalamoni is a founding member and managing artistic director of Skyline Theatre Company, and served as the associate director for Elton John's Broadway musical Lestat and Disney's Beauty and the Beast. He directed two readings of Alan Menken's new Broadway musical Leap of Faith, and the original workshop of Mulan Jr. for Disney Theatrical. This fall he will direct a reading of a new musical based on Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility and in 2010 will helm a new live touring show for Nickelodeon.

"Summer Stock" the film also includes the songs "(Howdy, Neighbor) Happy Harvest," "If You Feel Like Singing, Sing," "Dig-Dig-Dig for Your Dinner," "You, Wonderful You," "Friendly Star," "Mem'ry Island," "All for You" and "Heavenly Music."

The soundtrack was recently reissued on the Rhino label.

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