Sunset's Byrne to Star in Australian Follies; Season to Feature Damn Yankees and Mame

News   Sunset's Byrne to Star in Australian Follies; Season to Feature Damn Yankees and Mame
Debra Byrne, who played Norma Desmond in the Australian production of Sunset Boulevard, will portray Sally Durant Plummer in an upcoming staging of Follies Down Under.
Debra Byrne
Debra Byrne

The Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical will be one of three musicals presented by The Production Company during its 2008 season. Follies will kick off the season at Australia's State Theatre of the Arts Centre, running July 16-20; Damn Yankees will follow, playing Aug. 20-24; and the season will conclude with Mame, Oct. 1-5.

Directed by Roger Hodgman with musical direction by Guy Simpson, Follies will feature choreography by Dana Jolly, costume design by Vicki Rowell and scenic design by Richard Jeziorny. In addition to Byrne, the cast will also include Bud Tingwell as Dimitri Weismann, Anne Wood as Phyllis Rogers Stone, John Diedrich as Benjamin Stone, Philip Gould as Buddy Plummer, Kenneth Collins as Roscoe, Judith Roberts as Deedee West, Nancye Hayes as Hattie Walker, Monique Brynnel as Solange Lafitte, Patti Newton as Emily Whitman, Melissa Langton as Stella Deems and Judi Connelli as Carlotta Campion.

Terence O'Connell will direct the baseball-themed Damn Yankees with musical direction by Vanessa Scammell, choreography by Alana Scanlan, costume design by Kim Bishop and scenic design by Kathryn Sproul. Doug Tremlett is the magic consultant for the production, which will star Matt Hetherington as Applegate, David Harris as Joe Hardy, Pia Morley as Lola, Melissa Langton as Gloria Thorpe, Anne Wood as Meg Boyd and Wendy Stapleton as Emily.

Jerry Herman's Mame will feature direction by Gary Young, choreography by Andrew Hallsworth, musical direction by Anthony Gabriele, costume design by Kim Bishop and scenic design by Richard Jeziorny. Rhonda Burchmore will head the cast in the title role with Nicki Wendt as Vera Charles and Alan Fletcher as Beauregard.

Follies, with songs by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Goldman, was originally directed by Harold Prince on Broadway in 1971. Since then, it has received a legendary star-filled concert at Lincoln Center in 1985, a Roundabout revival on Broadway directed by Matthew Warchus in 2001, a City Center Encores! production in 2007 and numerous regional mountings, including a Paper Mill Playhouse engagement that featured Donna McKechnie and the late Ann Miller. Among the show's many song titles are "Beautiful Girls," "Don't Look at Me," "Waiting for the Girls Upstairs," "Rain on the Roof," "Ah, Paris!," "Broadway Baby," "The Road You Didn't Take," "Bolero d'Amour," "In Buddy's Eyes," "Who's That Woman?," "I'm Still Here," "Too Many Mornings," "The Right Girl," "One More Kiss," "Could I Leave You?," "Loveland," "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow," "Love Will See Us Through," "The God-Why-Don't-You-Love-Me Blues," "Losing My Mind," "The Story of Lucie and Jessie" and "Live, Laugh, Love." Damn Yankees has a score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop and is based on Wallop's novel "The Year The Yankees Lost the Pennant." The original Broadway production of Damn Yankees opened at the 46th Street Theatre May 5, 1955, playing 1,019 performances before closing at the Adelphi Theatre, where it later transferred, on Oct. 12, 1957. Directed by George Abbott with musical numbers staged by Bob Fosse, the original cast included Gwen Verdon, Stephen Douglass and Ray Walston. The most recent Broadway revival, which opened in March 1994 at the Marquis Theatre, co-starred Bebe Neuwirth, Victor Garber and Jarrod Emick.

Mame, based on Patrick Dennis' novel "Auntie Mame," features a score by Jerry Herman and a book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. The original Broadway production opened in May 1966 at the Winter Garden Theatre with Angela Lansbury as Mame and Bea Arthur as Vera Charles. Both Lansbury and Arthur won Tony Awards for their work. A subsequent film version cast Lucille Ball as the vivacious Mame. The classic Herman score includes such tunes as "If He Walked Into My Life," "It's Today," "Open a New Window," "Mame," "Bosom Buddies" and "We Need a Little Christmas."

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