Barrymore Award winner McClure, who previously starred on Broadway in Avenue Q, originated the role of Chaplin in 2010 at La Jolla Playhouse, where the musical received its world premiere under the title of Limelight; that staging received Craig Noel Awards for Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical (McClure) and Outstanding New Musical.
PHOTO RECAP: Chaplin Opens on Broadway; Red Carpet Arrivals, Curtain Call and Party
Chaplin features music and lyrics by Christopher Curtis, a relative unknown who played piano at Chez Josephine in the midtown theatre district, and a book by three-time Tony Award winner Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Curtis. Broadway previews began Aug. 21.
Joining McClure in Chaplin are Jim Borstelmann (The Addams Family, Young Frankenstein) as Alf Reeves, Chaplin's longtime friend and production manager; Jenn Colella (High Fidelity, Urban Cowboy) as Hedda Hopper, a powerful gossip columnist determined to bring down the Little Tramp; Erin Mackey (Anything Goes, Wicked) as the young Oona O'Neill, Chaplin's last wife; Michael McCormick (Elf, Curtains) as producer Sennett, McGranery/Emcee; Tony Award nominee Christiane Noll (Ragtime, Jekyll & Hyde) as Chaplin's mother, Hannah, who appears through a series of flashbacks; Zachary Unger (Encores! Merrily We Roll Along) as Young Charlie/Jackie; and Wayne Alan Wilcox (The Normal Heart) as older brother Sydney Chaplin. Rounding out the ensemble are Justin Bowen, Emilee Dupré, Sara Edwards, Leslie Donna Flesner, Lisa Gajda, Timothy Hughes, Ethan Khusidman, Ian Liberto, Renée Marino, Michael Mendez, Sarah O’Gleby, Hayley Podschun, Adam Rogers, William Ryall, Eric Santagata and Emily Tyra.
McClure previoulsy told Playbill.com that "the audience gets to see the ultimate rags-to-riches story." The Broadway musical follows Chaplin from the London slums to his heyday in Hollywood, where he wrote, produced, directed and starred in hit films such as "The Kid," "Gold Rush," "City Lights" and "The Great Dictator." "He really does go from nothing to becoming the most famous man in the world, which is an amazing arc," McClure said. "What a lot of people don't know is that he had a pretty drastic fall from grace, too. It's a beautiful, beautiful life, and, for me as an actor, to get to spend that kind of evening just feels epic."
Here's how producers characterize the new musical: "From the slums of London to the heights of Hollywood, Chaplin is the showbiz Broadway musical about the silent film legend the world couldn't stop talking about — Charlie Chaplin. The brand new 24-person musical reveals the man behind the legend, the undeniable genius that forever changed the way America went to the movies."
The creative team members paint the two-act musical in shades of black, grey and white. They are scenic designer Beowulf Boritt, costume designers Amy Clark and Martin Pakledinaz, lighting designer Ken Billington, sound designers Scott Lehrer and Drew Levy and projection designer Jon Driscoll. (There is a generous use of film in the production, often featuring McClure as the Little Tramp, including recreations of famous Chaplin movie moments.) Bryan Perri is the musical director.
Chaplin is produced on Broadway by the Rich Entertainment Group, Roy Gabay, and John and Claire Caudwell, the Viertel Routh Frankel Baruch Group, Chunsoo Shin/Waxman-Dokton and Broadway Across America.
The Barrymore Theatre is located at 243 W. 47th Street. Tickets, which range in price from $66.50 to $135.50, can be purchased through Telecharge or by calling (212) 239-6200.