The team that gave Off-Broadway the musical I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change now reunites for Over The River and Through The Woods, a comedy about pre-nuptial nuttiness in an Italian family.
Author Joe DiPietro and director Joel Bishoff's Perfect/Change continues its long run at the West Side Theatre. DiPietro's newest, which premiered at NJ's American Stage Company in 1996 and then played at the 1997 Berkshire Festival in Stockbridge, MA, and at the Helen Hayes Center in Nyack, NY, now plays at the John Houseman Theatre on West 42nd St.
Jim Bracchitta, who played the lead at the Berkshire Fest, repeats his duties Off-Broadway. Previews began Sept. 18 for an Oct. 5 opening.
In the show, Nick Cristano, a rising New Jersey executive, faithfully enjoys traditional Sunday meals with his two sets of grandparents -- until an employment opportunity threatens to take Nick away from them. Their solution? Get Nick a family of his own to keep him from leaving.
According to DiPietro (reached Aug. 20), also in the cast are Marsha Dietlin, Joan Copeland, Dick Latessa (Proposals ), Marie Lillo, Val Avery. Designing the show are Neil Peter Jampolis (set). DiPietro is the recipient of the 1997 William Inge Theatre Festival "New Faces In American Theatre" Award for outstanding newcomer. His River, received a reading at the Inge Festival, there featuring Polly Holliday and Eileen Heckart.
Another DiPietro play, The Kiss at City Hall, has been optioned by the producers of Perfect/Change: James Hammerstein, Jonathan Pollard and Bernie Kukoff. The show debuted in the spring at Teaneck NJ's American Stage Company, and after River opens, another out-of town tryout will be actively sought.
As if these projects weren't enough to keep DiPietro busy: "I've just started writing the book of another musical with Jimmy Roberts [who co wrote Perfect/Change]. There's a 1986 German movie called "Men," which I thought would make a good smaller-to-midsize musical. We're starting on that as we speak, we're spending two or three months just doing the book, making sure it's solid." As of Aug. 20, DiPietro says he and Roberts are "in the midst of the second act. Hopefully done soon."
DiPietro has also just finished a new book to the Gershwin musical Oh, Kay!, commissioned by the Gershwin Estate. "They'd really like to have another Crazy For You. We've kept about half the score and added half a dozen other Gershwin standards. I just handed that in this past weekend." DiPietro anticipates a reading of Oh, Kay! in San Francisco in early November. "It'll debut in the Ira & Lenore Gershwin Theatre in SF in summer `99. We really want to make it an old-fashioned musical comedy."
As if all the above projects weren't enough, DiPietro also has a new musical being workshopped at NYC's National Alliance of Musical Theatres in mid-September. "I wrote O. Henry's Lovers," he told Playbill On-Line (Aug. 20), "three short stories combined into one musical, written with Michael Valenti, who wrote Oh Brother."
-- By David Lefkowitz