The Broadway musical adaptation of Cole Porter's 1956 film High Society continues to polish and tighten during previews, which began Mar. 31. Matinee performances for Apr. 18 and Apr. 22 have been cancelled so that the Des McAnuff and Wayne Cilento, brought in to help Christopher Renshaw and Lar Lubovitch, can work on new material. Spokesperson Susanne Tighe (of Boneau/Bryan-Brown) wouldn't comment on what material was being worked on but did say the show was on target for its Apr. 27 opening.
Director Renshaw, who drew acclaim and Tony consideration for the recent Broadway revival of The King and I, directs the musical, which boasts a book by Arthur Kopit (Nine, Doctor Zhivago). The uncredited McAnuff was been called onto the production to help McAnuff.
Tony-winner Cilento is similarly assisting choreographer-of-record Lubovitch, who was responsible for the musical staging of two sequences in the recent King And I revival. Lubovitch also worked on the dance staging for James Lapine's 1995 drama at Lincoln Center, Twelve Dreams. Cilento choreographed Tommy and the How To Succeed revival, and both directed and choreographed Dream.
During previews, the directors cut two numbers from Act I: "I Worship You" and "I Am Loved." A reprise of the latter remained in the show as of Apr. 9. The opening also has been re-staged. As of Apr. 9, the show was running about 25 minutes shorter than it did on the first preview Mar. 31. The evening curtain now comes down around 10:20 PM. *
The San Francisco tryout of the Broadway-bound musical, which opened at the American Conservatory Theatre Sept. 10, 1997, extended its sold-out run there from Oct. 5 to Oct. 12. ACT cast members still with the show include:
Tony nominee Daniel McDonald, who played the heaven-sent marathon dancer in Steel Pier, plays Philadelphian Main Liner, C.K. Dexter Haven.
Melissa Errico, who received raves in the most recent Broadway revival of My Fair Lady and in the "Encores!" production of One Touch of Venus, stars as his ex, Tracy Lord, a blueblood who's altar bound again.
Randy Graff, a Tony winner for City of Angels, is Connor's wise-cracking sidekick photographer, pursued all over the elegant Main Line premises by Tracy's randy unmarried uncle (John McMartin of Follies fame).
Bogardus will play the role of Macaulay Connor (he's replacing Jere Shea, who played the part in San Francisco) and Joslyn has been cast as the housekeeper. Bogardus starred as Whizzer in Broadway's Falsettos, and recently played Gaylord Ravenal in the national tour of Showboat. Joslyn, who began her career two decades ago as Luisa in Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks, has numerous credits ranging from Joanna in the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd to the starring role in the Comden & Green musical A Doll's Life.
Aside from featuring most of the songs from the movie, this new version has nothing to do with the British High Society that first reached the stage a few years ago with Natasha Richardson. The brand-new Yankee edition will be spiced with standards plus tunes from other Porter scores (except Anything Goes and Kiss Me Kate).
Here is a list of songs in the show as of the end of the second week of previews, April 9.:
"Throwing A Ball Tonight"
"Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"
"I Love Paris"
"She's Got That Thing"
"Once Upon A Time"
"l'm Getting Myself Ready For You"
"Once Upon A Time (Reprise)"
"Just One Of Those Things"
"Well, Did You Evah?"
"Say It With Gin"
"Why Don't We Try Staying Home?"
"It's All Right With Me"
"He's A Right Guy"
"True Love (Reprise)"
Designing High Society are Loy Arcenas (sets), Jane Greenwood (costumes; Judith Dolan did the costumes at ACT); and Tony Meola (sound). Christopher Akerlind did the lighting in San Francisco, but Howell Binkley will light the New York production.
The High Society film was based on Philip Barry's 1939 play, The Philadelphia Story. This story of the humanization (through love) of a haughty, aristocratic woman was written specifically for Katharine Hepburn because Barry liked the movie she did of his play, Holiday. The result, The Philadelphia Story, opened at Broadway's Shubert March 28, 1939, and revitalized Hepburn's sagging career. The roles of the ex-hubby, reporter, photographer and philanderer were originated by Joseph Cotten, Van Heflin, Shirley Booth and Forrest Orr on stage and brought to film a year later by Cary Grant, James Stewart (who won an Oscar), Ruth Hussey and Roland Young; in Porter's film musical (which had Philadelphia's pre-princess, Grace Kelly, in the Hepburn role), those parts were essayed by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm and, in his last film, Louis Calhern.
The Dodgers are producing the stage show with Lauren Mitchell, the former actress and debuting producer. (She originated the title role in Kiss of the Spider Woman when that musical premiered at SUNY Purchase in the spring of 1990.)
Tickets to High Society can be ordered at (212) 239-6200. You can also order tickets on Playbill On-Line.