Previews began April 29. The Manhattan launch had been delayed several times in order to further develop the show. It had its world premiere in Chicago in fall 2009.
A North American tour is promised for fall. David Shiner (Fool Moon, Seussical) devised and directed the production, which was to be a limited engagement at the Beacon to Aug. 29. Sales were softer than expected in New York.
Banana Shpeel is billed as "a roller coaster mix of styles that blends intense choreography, crazy comedy and distinctive acrobatic acts. The show offers a diverse spectrum of performances including tap, hip-hop and eccentric dance, slapstick comedy and Cirque du Soleil acrobatic acts — plus madcap characters spreading chaos in all directions."
Banana Shpeel features an international cast of 38 performers including the main character of over-the-top producer Schmelky (who was put front-and-center in a last-minute re-branding of the show this spring), played by Broadway veteran Danny Rutigliano, best known for his role as Timon in The Lion King. Assisting Schmelky are two slapstick sidekicks (Daniel Passer and Wayne Wilson) and assistant Margaret (Shereen Hickman). "As Schmelky works to complete his latest show," he is disrupted by a comedic trio, Claudio Carneiro, Patrick de Valette and Gordon White.
Expect acrobatic performances, including Russian hand balancer Dmitry Bulkin; Vietnamese hat juggler Tuan Le; Spanish foot juggler Vanessa Alvarez; Canadian hand-to-hand duo Preston Jamieson and Kesley Wiens; and Russian contortionists Tsybenova Ayagma, Tsydendambaeva Imin and Zhambalova Lilia.
Banana Shpeel features dance, too: brother-sister tap dance duo Joseph and Josette Wiggan and a ensemble including Robyn Baltzer, Kassie Brown, Adrienne Jean Fisher, DeWitt Fleming Jr., Karida Griffith, Luke Hawkins, Kathleen Hennessey, Adrienne Reid, Anthony J. Russo, Melissa Schott, Josh Scribner, Alexis Sims and Steven T. Williams.
To purchase tickets, go to www.schmelkyproductions.com or www.ticketmaster.com or call (866) 858-0008.