Prince, Stroman, Tunick, Fitzhugh, Nelson Waltz to Strauss With Musical Paradise Found

News   Prince, Stroman, Tunick, Fitzhugh, Nelson Waltz to Strauss With Musical Paradise Found
Paradise Found, a new musical by librettist Richard Nelson and lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh — with music by Tony Award-winning orchestrator Jonathan Tunick and late 19th-century waltz composer Johann Strauss II — will be explored in a week-long reading overseen by co-directors Harold Prince and Susan Stroman.
Darius de Haas
Darius de Haas

Starting Jan. 28 in Manhattan, Darius de Haas (Marie Christine, Rent, Carousel) plays The Eunuch at the center of the show, which was inspired by Joseph Roth's Vienna-set novel, "The Tale of the 1002nd Night." Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles is producing the reading with an eye toward a future production.

Music director Charles Prince, the respected musician son of Tony-winning director Hal Prince, is the project's musical director. Tunick is widely known for orchestrating many Broadway musicals, including the works of Stephen Sondheim. Strauss (1825-1899) is the Austrian composer known for his sensuous waltzes, including "The Blue Danube." Tony-winning director and choreographer Stroman (The Producers, Contact, Young Frankenstein) last collaborated with Prince on the Broadway revival of Show Boat.

A week of rehearsals will culminate in a private industry presentation Feb. 1.

The cast is expected to include Tony winner Shuler Hensley (Young Frankenstein, Tarzan, Oklahoma!), Tony winner John Cullum (of Prince's On the 20th Century), long-time Phantom of the Opera star George Lee Andrews, Show Boat veteran and Mary Poppins mother Rebecca Luker, Phantom Tony winner Judy Kaye, Kate Baldwin (White Christmas, Wonderful Town), LoveMusik veteran Graham Rowat, Katie Adams, Laura Dekkers, Eric Michael Gillett, Steven Goldstein, Chris Hoch (Die Mommie Die!, Beauty and the Beast), Lacey Kohl, Jim Poulos and LoveMusik's Rachel Ulanet.

Nelson is the respected American playwright of Some Americans Abroad who won a Tony Award for his libretto to James Joyce's The Dead. Fitzhugh penned lyrics to the Prince-directed musical, The Grind, and the musical Paper Moon. Publishers Weekly characterizes the Roth novel this way: "A master fabulist and linguistic architect, Roth (1884-1939) examines the cultural crucible of fin de siecle Vienna through the eyes of his protagonist, the Persian monarch Shah-in-Shah. Seen this way, Roth's Vienna is, as the novelist Hermann Kesten put it, 'an exotic old-Austria, a kind of vanished, fairy-tale Wild East.' Things do get wild when the Shah, whose harem back at home is 365 wives strong, decides to sample 'the amorous arts of the Occident.' His unwitting encounter with a Viennese prostitute sets in motion the novel's Byzantine plot contortions and introduces a cast of eclectic characters. Roth's antic playfulness is, however, tempered by a serious consideration of the customs of the times. The Shah's visit upsets Viennese society at every level as it destabilizes social hierarchies and calls character into question. Roth decorates his well-wrought plot with lush description as he waxes philosophical on destiny and responsibility. Originally published in 1939 by the Dutch firm of De Gemeenschap, this historical novel proves its staying power, despite the tests of time and translation."

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