Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson Musicalize Texas History in Giant, Opening Nov. 15

News   Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson Musicalize Texas History in Giant, Opening Nov. 15
Edna Ferber's 1952 novel Giant, capturing a moment in American history as the landscape of Texas changed from open cattle country to a skyline studded with oil derricks, is transformed into a new musical by Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson. Opening is Nov. 15 at the Public Theater.

Brian d'Arcy James in Giant.
Brian d'Arcy James in Giant. Photo by Joan Marcus

Staged by Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (Next to Normal, Rent, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide...), Giant has music and lyrics by five-time Tony Award nominee LaChiusa (Queen of the Mist, Hello Again, Marie Christine, The Wild Party) and a book by Tony nominee Pearson (Baby). Previews began Oct. 26. The production is currently scheduled to play through Dec. 2.

The musical, which features a 17-member orchestra, is based on Ferber's novel but is best known for its iconic 1956 film version that starred Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean. Giant had its world premiere at the Signature Theatre Company in Arlington, VA, in 2009, where it clocked in at four hours. The writers have continued to refine the production, paring the running time down for New York.

Prior to its New York bow, Giant was seen in a revised staging at the Dallas Theater Center last winter, also under Greif's direction. Giant is a co-production between the Dallas Theater Center and the Public.

Ferber's sweeping Texas-set novel about love, greed, racism and power that spans generations is the third of her works to be adapted as a musical. The previous two were "Show Boat" and "Saratoga Trunk."

The Public engagement of Giant marks a homecoming for LaChiusa, who has seen his musicals The Wild Party, See What I Wanna See, The Petrified Prince and First Lady Suite premiere there in past years. "In a lot of ways, like the great Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, Michael John and Sybille's musical is not only about very intense personal relationships, expressed beautifully in song, but also about how people live in communities, and have great heroic, history-changing effects on those communities," Greif told Playbill in a recent interview. 

Kate Baldwin and Katie Thompson
photo by Joan Marcus

Giant's central love triangle features Kate Baldwin, a Tony Award nominee for Finian's Rainbow, as Leslie, Tony Award nominee Brian d'Arcy James (Titanic, Shrek, Sweet Smell of Success, "Smash") as wealthy Texas cattle man Bick and P.J. Griffith (American Idiot) as young oil tycoon Jett. Baldwin and Griffith originated their respective roles in the DTC production.

Much of the original DTC cast reunites for the Off-Broadway production, with the addition of Tony Award winner Michele Pawk as Luz, Mackenzie Mauzy as Lil Luz, Tony nominee Bobby Steggert as Jordy Jr. and Jon Fletcher as Bobby Jr./Bobby Sr.

The cast is completed by Enrique Acevedo as ensemble; Raul Aranas as Polo; Mary Bacon as Adarene and Mrs. Lyntonn; Miguel Cervantes as Angel, Jr. and Angel, Sr.; Natalie Cortez as Juana; Rocio Del Mar Valles as Analita; Tony nominee John Dossett as Bawley; Michael Halling as Lord Kafrey; Doreen Montalvo as Lupe; Allison Rogers as Heidi; Isabel Santiago as ensemble; Martin Sola as Dimodeo; Matthew Stocke as Mike; Katie Thompson as Vashti; and William Youmans as Pinkie.

According to the Public, "Giant is a new American musical that spans generations in an epic chronicle of the state that’s like no place else on earth: Texas. Amid a turbulent culture of greed, bigotry and money, a powerful cattleman, his new East Coast bride, their family and friends – not to mention their enemies – embrace and confront the joys and sorrows that loom as large as the state they call home."

The Giant creative team includes costume designer Jeff Mashie, scenic designer Allen Moyer, lighting designer Ken Posner, sound designer Brian Ronan and choreographer Alex Sanchez. Chris Fenwick is musical director. Orchestrations are by Bruce Coughlin.

For tickets phone (212) 967-7555, or visit PublicTheater. The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.

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