Members of the same creative group that sent out a tour of Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby — landing on Broadway in 1998-99 with a Best Revival Tony nomination — will launch the romantic King Arthur fable in fall 2004.
"It's going to tour and then hopefully go into New York," Casale told Playbill On-Line. "They're looking for a star."
Anita Waxman, Elizabeth Williams and Tom McCoy are the producing partners for the venture. A tour schedule and Broadway target date may very well depend on a star's itinerary. Peter Pan's Patti Colombo will choreograph.
Casale said he's working with the writers' estates to reshape the show, which had a famously rocky Toronto tryout during which director Moss Hart suffered a heart attack back in 1960; lyricist-librettist Alan Jay Lerner took the helm. The musical sticks in the American public's imagination partly because John F. Kennedy's administration was linked to the idea of Camelot. The president's widow said he liked the title song and the democratic ideals presented in the story (the musical is drawn from a section of T.H. White's Arthur-rich novel, "The Once and Future King").
The show's 873-performance run was fueled by Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe's reputation for My Fair Lady, and by appearances by stars Julie Andrews and Richard Burton on "The Ed Sullivan Show." "The sweeping scope of the whole piece is what I love about it," Casale told Playbill On-Line. "It's so rich. As we were building it we were talking about [how] there are no duets between Lancelot and Guenevere, so we're gonna try to fuss with that. They sing 'Before I Gaze at You Again' separately. People have fussed with the show in the past, but we have the estates involved."
Casale explained, "There's no trunk stuff to go back to, so they're letting me go back to the source material, which is s 'The Once and Future King.' It's a new world for women. You can't play Guenevere the same [as in 1960]."
Casale said he'd like to set the production back further than the fanciful, medieval-flavored period of the 1960 production. "The historical documentation for the [legend] is, they feel Arthur lived 500 A.D., which gives it a rougher, rawer, more like 'Excalibur' kind of feel," Casale said. "I'm gonna put [villainess] Morgan Le Fay back in, I'm trying to get some circus ideas into it. It should be fun.
Casale is no stranger to Lerner and Loewe's work: He staged Brigadoon in Pittsburgh in 2002, and helmed several productions of My Fair Lady, including the current run at Theatre Under the Stars in Houston.
Casale borrowed elements of the book and play, Peter Pan, to enhance the revival of the beloved Carolyn Leigh-Moose Charlap, Betty Comden-Adolph Green-Jule Styne Broadway musical. New scenes were added, and changes were made to the lyrics of "Ugg-a-Wugg" to make the song less about Native American stereotypes and more about percussive, tribal movement.
In 1999, Peter Pan was Tony Award-nominated for Best Revival (Musical).
Paper Milll: The State Theatre of New Jersey will revive Camelot April 2-May 18.