Alfonso Ribeiro, who was once Broadway's The Tap Dance Kid, will play the lead of Joe Wellington in the Encores!' concert presentation of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams' Golden Boy, confirmed sources close to the production. The show, the second presentation of Encores!' 2002 season, will run March 21-24. Walter Bobbie directs.
Paul Butler will be featured in Golden Boy as Papa Wellington, the father of Ribeiro's character. Butler starred on Broadway in A Few Good Men.
Ribeiro starred as Willie, a tap-dancing boy who wants to enter show business against his father's wishes in the 1983 musical The Tap Dance Kid, his only major theatre credit to date.
Golden Boy was adapted from Clifford Odets' famous play about a poor Italian youth whose promising career as a concert violinist is derailed when he is lured away by the flash of fast money and fame as a prize fighter. The musical switched the story's locale to Harlem and the lead's race to African-American. Sammy Davis, Jr., played Joe in what became his most famous stage role.
The project had a famously rough road to Broadway. Odets succumbed to cancer before he could finish adapting his play. "By the time Lee Adams and I caught [Odets] he was at the end," Strouse said in the book "It Happened on Broadway." "We were in Vegas. He told us he had a terrible problem with gambling, that we shouldn't let him near the tables. Nevertheless, around midnight, we would have to pull him away and say, `Get ye to the typewriter, because we've got to meet Sammy.' I'm an early riser, and at six-thirty the next morning, I'd pass by the casino and see an unshaven Clifford. `I was going to quit,' he'd say, 'but I was ahead.' The first week of rehearsals, Odets died."
William Gibson was brought in to work on the book and it is he and Odets who share credit for the libretto, though many people worked on it, including Davis himself. Original director Peter Coe was replaced by Arthur Penn after tryouts in Philadelphia and Boston.
According to David Sheward's book "It's a Hit," the musical had the unlucky fortune to play Detroit during a race riot. As a result of the interracial romance portrayed between Joe and his manager's white mistress, Lorna Moon (played by Paula Wayne), the stars received death threats and required the services of bodyguards.
Golden Boy opened at the Majestic Theatre on Oct. 20, 1964 and went on to play 569 performances.
Jason Alexander is being courted for the role of Hines in the upcoming May 2-6 Encores! concert revival of Adler and Ross' The Pajama Game, according to a report in Theatrical Index. A spokesman for Encores! Could not confirm the "Seinfeld" star's involvement.
Karen Ziemba is already set to play Babe Williams in The Pajama Game, sources confirmed. Her hoped for antagonist in the show's union-labor romance is Brent Barrett, currently headlining Kiss Me, Kate in London. Official casting for the show has not been announced.
Alexander appeared on the New York stage in Jerome Robbins' Broadway over a decade ago. Since then, he acted in a television adaptation of Bye Bye, Birdie and for a while he was attached to the in development musical Marty. He is also known for creating the role of the producer in Sondheim's Merrily We Role Along.
Ziemba won a 2000 Tony Award for her performance in Contact as a housewife who escapes a suffocating marriage through choreographed flights of fancy. The show was only her latest collaboration with director-choreographer Susan Stroman, who had previously cast her in And the World Goes Round, Crazy for You and Steel Pier.
Barrett is receiving some of the best notices of his career as Fred Graham in Kiss Me, Kate. Recently, he was nominated for an Olivier Award. On Broadway, he is known as a sturdy replacement player, stepping into lead roles in Annie Get Your Gun and Chicago, in which he has played Billy Flynn many times.
John Rando will direct Pajama Game, which has a book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell. Abbott and Jerome Robbins directed the original 1954 Broadway production, which starred Janis Paige and John Raitt as the romantic leads, and featured the choreographic Broadway debut of Bob Fosse. Fosse took cast members Carol Haney, Buzz Miller and Peter Gennaro and created what became the show's most famous number, "Steam Heat." The score also features "Hey There."
— by Robert Simonson