42nd Street Moon, the San Francisco troupe committed to faithfully reviving classic American musicals in concert, will stray from its mission and present a Howard Ashman rewrite of Cole Porter's Out of This World, July 12-30.
Greg MacKellan, co-founder of the company, will direct the revival of the 1950 musical comedy about Greek gods interfering in modern life. The script incorporates parts of a rewrite by the late Ashman (Little Shop of Horrors, "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Little Mermaid").
The tuner has its roots in Plautus' Amphitryon, and over the years various revivals of the show used songs cut in the original process (notably, "From This Moment On"). The original book is credited to Dwight Taylor and Reginald Lawrence. An Off-Broadway version was cooked up by Rick Besoyan in the mid 1950s, and a 1971 version had the gods (Jupiter, Mercury, Juno, etc.) presented as hippies.
Ashman's version set the first act in Hollywood, and have the characters of Helen and Art connections to the movie business -- he's a screenwriter and she is a star. He scrapped a subplot about a Chicago gangster on the lam in Greece. Ashman took the implicit gay humor of the original and made Apollo explicitly gay.
"It's a unique challenge, taking the best from all these different versions and joining them so that Porter's brilliant score is shown off to its greatest advantage," MacKellan said in a statement. "We're honored that the Porter Trust has given us this opportunity." Performances are at the Eureka Theatre. Official opening is July 14.
The hybrid script will be cobbled together by MacKellan. Key elements of Ashman's rewrite will be used, keeping the Hollywood connection and Ashman's gay references. Elements of Besoyan's version and the Taylor Lawrence script will also be used.
The score, rediscovered by new audiences due to the CD re release of the original cast album and the release of the Encores! concert version, includes "Nobody's Chasing Me," "Cherry Pies Ought to Be You," "I Am Loved," "They Couldn't Compare to You," "Use Your Imagination," and more.
The San Francisco cast includes John-Elliott Kirk as Jupiter, Stephanie Rhoads (as movie queen Helen Vance), Darlene Popovic (as Juno), Steven Rhyne (Mercury), Kurt Kroesche (as Helen's husband, Art), Lisa Peers, Caroline Altman, Linh Kauffman, Illana Zauderer, Ann Magdalen, David Miailovich, Kristin Price, Ed Simonick and Matt Riutta.
Musical direction is by John Florencio, with choreography by Jayne Zaban.
Tickets are $13-$25. Eureka Theatre is at 215 Jackson at Battery in San Francisco. For (415) 788-1125 for information, or visit www.42ndStMoon.com.
-- By Kenneth Jones