Couples don't get unlikelier, but novelist Herman Wouk and country singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett have been collaborating on a new musical for more than four and a half years. Titled Don't Stop The Carnival, the show will have its world premiere production April 8-May 11 at Florida's Coconut Grove Playhouse, a run already extended one week past its scheduled closing.
Official opening night is April 19.
Leading the 28 character cast is Tony Award-winner Michael Rupert (Sweet Charity, Falsettos), in the role of Norman Paperman. Other cast members include Sandy Edgerton from Broadway's Crazy For You, Susan Dawn Carson from Broadway's Sunset Boulevard and Les Miserables, Josh Mostel from My Favorite Year, Texas Trilogy and many films, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Avery Sommers (as Sheila), LaParee Young (as Gov. Sanders), Megan McFarland (as Amy Ball).
Carnival is based on Wouk's 1965 novel of the same name. He wrote the book, called "the bible to life on the Virgin Islands," when he and his family were living there to get away from New York. Years later, according to Coconut Grove marketing director Debbie Eyerdam, a young Jimmy Buffett was sailing around the Caribbean and noticed that everyone there had a copy of Wouk's novel. He fell in love the book, and contacted Wouk as a fan. The two hit it off, and now their collaboration will be directed and choreographed in Florida by David Bell, the associate artistic director of Atlanta's Alliance Theatre.
Bell's best-known work at the Grove was as director of the hit musical, Matador. The story of Don't Stop The Carnival (not to be confused with Bob Merrill's Carnival, Carnival In Flanders or Carousel, concerns Norman Paperman, a middle-aged New York publicist, deciding to give up the rat race. Aided by a shrewd business friend, he acquires a small Caribbean resort but learns that life in paradise is more complex than he'd imagined.
Wouk's best-known novels include "The Winds Of War" and "War And Remembrance," as well as "The Caine Mutiny," which he adapted into the drama, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. Buffett's best known, tropic-tinged tunes include "Margaritaville," "Volcano" and "Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes."
Carnival replaces the previously announced, new Charles Strouse musical, Palm Beach, which is still in development at the Playhouse.