Zippel told Playbill On-Line that following a week-long private reading in fall 2002, the collaborators were encouraged. Last fall, the piece was incomplete, but the pieces are now in place for the new two-week reading that will be opened up to a wider range of industry folk, including commercial producers.
The 90-minute musical is based on Wasserstein's 1998 children's book of the same name, illustrated by the Broadway scenic designer Andrew Jackness. The story tells of how young Pamela is whisked off by her artsy, quirky, connected Aunt Louise to lunch at the Russian Tea Room (which has since closed) and then to a splashy Broadway musical. She later meets the company of performers and creators and learns that making art starts with a dream in the imagination.
Michele Lee (Seesaw, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife) plays Aunt Louise in this latest reading.
"I think we were all very encouraged," Zippel said of the fall 2002 reading. "Lincoln Center's been fantastic about helping us develop this. We did a week, which was the first time we ever heard it out loud. We looked at it and felt like we were moving in the right direction, so we've taken it back. There were a couple of things we hadn't completed."
Lincoln Center's musical theatre associate producer Ira Weitzman, known for nurturing such New York shows as Once On This Island and A Man of No Importance, is working with the collaborators, but no formal producing plans have been announced. "We're taking it a step at a time," Zippel said.
Graciela Daniele (Once On This Island, Marie Christine, Little Fish) is directing, as she did the Nov. 11-15, 2002, reading. She's one of LCT's associate directors.
Principals in the reading are Sara Niemietz (the young Carol Burnett character in Hollywood Arms) as Pamela; Gregg Edelman as Kevin, Pamela's father; Carolee Carmello as Lyndell, Kevin's girlfriend; Tony Roberts as producer Bernie S. Gerry; Adam Heller as director Hal Hytner, plus an ensemble of eight.
"It Started With a Dream," a new song by Tony Award winning City of Angels songwriters Coleman and Zippel, is a central anthem in the score. Coleman introduced "It Started With a Dream" on a CD of songs released in 2002 on the Sony label. The song — about the creative process — was sung Jan. 18, 2002, at a Carnegie Hall concert featuring Coleman's music. The concert and disc were both titled It Started With a Dream.
Wasserstein is the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig and An American Daughter. Her most recent play, a multi-generational drama, Old Money, played Lincoln Center Theater in 2000-01. She won the Pulitzer for The Heidi Chronicles and also penned the popular Isn't It Romantic?
Composer Coleman's works include Little Me, Sweet Charity, On the 20th Century, Barnum, City of Angels and The Will Rogers Follies. His most recent Broadway effort was the Tony-nominated tuner, The Life. A brief regional tour of Lovers, Lawyers and Lunatics, a rewrite of the musical, Exactly Like You, was launched earlier this year.
In September 2002, Zippel's lyrics were showcased at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia, in a revision of an earlier all-Zippel revue, It's Better With a Band. He penned lyrics for the films "Mulan" and "Hercules" ("Go the Distance" was Academy Award-nominated) and won the Tony with Coleman for City of Angels. With Marvin Hamlisch and Neil Simon, he wrote the stage musical, The Goodbye Girl, and is known for specialty songs including "Ingenue," sung by Barbra Cook.
Zippel recently signed with the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization's publishing arm, Williamson Music. An all Zippel piano-vocal book is one of the fruits expected from the pairing.