After delaying its first preview a week following this month's terrorist attacks, the new Lincoln Center Theater musical Thou Shalt Not will begin performances at Broadway's Plymouth Theatre on Sept. 27. The original start date was Sept. 20. The Susan Stroman-Harry Connick, Jr., musical will play a limited run to Jan. 6. Opening night is Oct. 25.
This musical adaptation of Emile Zola's gritty tale of murderous adultery will star Kate Levering in the role of Therese Raquin (the name of the original novel), Craig Bierko her lover Laurent and Norbert Butz her husband Camille. Debra Monk and Leo Burmester are also in the cast.
Levering and Bierko co-starred as distinctly sunnier characters in the Stroman-directed The Music Man, which had Levering as Zaneeta Shinn, and Bierko as Prof. Harold Hill. Levering then went on to become the budding starlet Peggy Sawyer in the Broadway revival of 42nd Street, winning a Tony nomination for her tireless tapping.
Butz was recently seen Off-Broadway as Amy Ryan's baby-stoning boyfriend in Edward Bond's Saved. More recently, he was in Jason Robert Brown's new musical, The Last Five Years at the North Light Theatre in Chicago (and soon due at LCT). He is also known for a stint as the emcee in Cabaret.
The book is written by Tommy Thompson. Stroman will direct and choreograph. *
Speaking at the 2000 Theatre Hall of Fame ceremony on Jan. 29, Monk said of the show, "Harry [Connick] is perfect for it. He has written a beautiful and wonderful score, and Tommy's book is lovely, so it's very exciting."
Monk added that, though the novel took place in the 1800's in Paris, the musical is set in the 1940's in New Orleans.
She later told the Houston Chronicle, in July 2001, "It's a dark, lusty, unique piece," Monk said. "It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but I know it will be extraordinary theater. Harry's score is amazing, full of 1940s blues and jazz. Besides writing the music and lyrics, he's telling us all a lot about New Orleans, which is his hometown, helping give the show the authentic New Orleans feel."
Connick, son a New Orleans jazz musician, made his name as a gifted pianist while still a teenager. He become a popular vocalist as well (and a bit of a Frank Sinatra-like heartthrob) when his soundtrack to the film "When Harry Met Sally" proved a surprise success in the late '80s. He has since recorded standards and original material as a soloist, part of a jazz trio and as leader of a big band. Connick has occasionally dabbled in acting, taking parts in the films "Memphis Belle," "Hope Floats" and "Copycat."
Thou Shalt Not had a workshop at Lincoln Center Theatre on Sept. 18. LCT helped foster Stroman's last original project, Contact, which went on to win the best musical Tony and is still playing at the Vivian Beaumont. Monk appeared in the workshop. Stroman and Monk worked together on Steel Pier.
First published serially under the title "Un Mariage d'Amour," Zola's harrowing tale of passion, hatred and the ultimate destruction that can come of lust was later published in 1867 as a novel. In "Therese Raquin," a sensual wife and her lover murder the woman's husband and remarry, only to be haunted by the victim's ghost.
Zola was a preeminent French novelist of the later 19th century who aimed, as part of the naturalist movement, to present real life by depicted the lives of poor, betrodden working class people. He also had a hand in the changing face of the theatre at the time, influencing Paris' famous Theatre Libre, where many naturalistic works had their premiere.
Zola wrote many plays himself (including his own adaptation of Terese Raquin), but found more success with his books. Today, he is perhaps best known for his role in the Dreyfus Affair, which divided France over the subject of the country's anti-semitism. Zola, who was rabidly pro Dreyfus, railed against the prejudiced military establishment with his famous article, "J-Accuse."