The Goodspeed Opera House, the Tony Award-honored musical theatre house in East Haddam, CT, will offer the world premiere of Joe DiPietro's new Gershwin-punctuated musical, They All Laughed!, producer Jonathan Pollard confirmed, after the news broke in Connecticut papers.
They All Laughed!, with a book by the author of Over the River and Through the Woods and a score pulled from the George and Ira Gershwin catalog, plays June 29 Sept. 22, 2001 at Goodspeed.
The Goodspeed season is also expected to include Brigadoon (March 30-June 23) and King of Hearts (Sept. 28-Dec. 16).
They All Laughed! is drawn from the 1926 Gershwin-Guy Bolton-P.G. Wodehouse tuner, Oh, Kay!, which gave the world, "Someone to Watch Over Me," "Dear Little Girl" and "Do, Do, Do." John Rando directs, and Kevin Chamberlin has said in interviews that he expects to appear in the show.
They All Laughed! is a Goodspeed production in association with Jonathan Pollard, Dena Hammerstein and Bernie Kukoff (who are also responsible for producing DiPietro's Off-Broadway hits I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change and Over The River And Through The Woods). Producer Pollard said this is "the first regional step" toward its commercial future.
"Joe was approached by the Gershwin family to do this project," Pollard told Playbill On-Line Nov. 10. "He created a Kaufmanesque farce — a screwball comedy with glorious music. What is wonderful about this project is that it's not a huge musical, it's a musical with three sets very much in the tradition of the old-fashioned glorious musicals. It's not a 'mega musical.'"
Pollard said DiPietro took plots points and some songs from Oh, Kay! and reinvented a script. It's still set in the 1920s, during Prohibition.
They All Laughed! was first performed in a series of industry readings in January 2000 with a cast that included Roger Bart, Laura Benanti, Kevin Chamberlain, Donna English, Tovah Feldshuh and Mary Beth Peil.
It's not the first time the songs of George and Ira Gershwin have been plundered for "new" shows: My One and Only, Crazy For You and The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm were all new Broadway constructions using old songs.
Brigadoon is the 1947 Alan Jay Lerner-Frederick Loewe fantasy about American hunters who encounter a 200 year-old Scottish town in the highlands. It gave the world "Almost Like Being in Love" and "The Heather on the Hill."
Playwright Steve Tesich penned the libretto of 1977's King of Hearts, but his book was scrapped on the way to Broadway in 1978 (Joseph Stein replaced him). The show was based on the 1966 film and was 48-performance flop. Regional theatres and audiences embraced the charm and humanity of the show, however, when Tesich's book and the show's original intent (seen in 1977 at the Westport Country Playhouse) was restored for licensing. The score is by Peter Link, the lyrics by Jacob Brackman. Goodspeed is expected to use the Tesich script.
For Goodspeed subscription information, call (860) 873 8668.
— By Kenneth Jones