The New York University undergraduate staging of Pacific Overtures, Oct. 14-23, is sold out before its first performance begins, according to the box office.
A waiting list begins one hour prior to each performance, at the Abe Burrows Theatre, 721 Broadway (at Waverly), on the NYU campus. Call (212) 998-1860 for information.
Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Pacific Overtures, the 1976 musical about Japan's evolution from insular island to industrial giant, is of interest not only to parents of the performers: Musical theatre buffs know the show is not often revived.
Making the rare work more intriguing, librettist Weidman has added new material to the script. Weidman (Assassins, Big) is said to have added 1999 references to the finale, a musical number called "Next," which fast forwards 150 years of history (1853 to the present).
The NYU production uses elements from the original script and the 1984 85 Off-Broadway revival. The original production credits list Hugh Wheeler (A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd) as writing "additional material." Seldom done in the undergrad setting (indeed, not often revived), Pacific Overtures will be performed by a multicultural student company and will use women in roles that were, in Harold Prince's original staging, played by men in Kabuki drag. In the original, women did appear in the finale, as part of the concept of cultural change. The original cast was of Asian descent.
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, the regional theatre director whose credits include musical staging of Off-Broadway's Closer Than Ever, stages Pacific Overtures.
The company includes Elizabeth Bauer, Kim Blair, Ryan K. Brack, Jennifer M. Chang, Jessica Lindsay Cohen, Jonathan Drury, Elizabeth Earley, Jesse Factor, Kathryn Foster, Ben Fox, Amy Frankel, Jared, Gertner, P.J. Griffith, William Hartery, Christianne Knauer, Douglas Kreeger, Michael Langoria, Maiesha McQueen, Shale Marks, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, Jessica B. Morris, Katherine Prudente, Lauren Rubin, Daniel Spector, Brandon Tesar, and Jennifer Zetlan.
Musical director is Brian Cimmet. A puppeteer who has worked with Jim Henson Productions is consulting on puppet work. Jamie Guan (M. Butterfly) is the movement consultant.
Pacific Overtures opened on Broadway Jan. 11, 1976, the same season as the flashier Chicago and the sensation, A Chorus Line. The rarefied, Asiatic-influenced musical ran 193 performances and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and earned designers Florence Klotz (costumes) and Boris Aronson (scenic) trophies.
Musical numbers include "Pretty Lady," "A Bowler Hat," "Someone in a Tree," "Welcome to Kanagawa," "Poems," "Chrysanthemum Tea," "Please Hello," "Four Black Dragons" and more.
-- By Kenneth Jones