The full cast for the new musical collaboration between pop legend Billy Joel and choreographer Twyla Tharp, Movin' Out, has been announced. As previously reported by PBOL, the leads will be played by John Selya, Elizabeth Parkinson, Keith Roberts, Ashley Tuttle, Scott Wise, Benjamin G. Bowman and Michael Cavanaugh.
Movin' Out will have an out-of-town tryout in Chicago before hitting Broadway, where it will open at the Richard Rodgers on Oct. 24, after previews from Sept. 30. The Chicago run, at the Shubert Theatre, will be June 25-Aug. 4.
The casting of seasoned performers who are nonetheless not marquee names in the lead roles would seem to indicate the producers' and creative team's wish to make the unique teaming of the talents of Joel and Tharp the star attraction.
The cast of 27 is completed by Andrew Allagree, Mark Arvin, Aliane Baquerot, Alexander Brady, Holly Cruikshank, Ron De Jesus, Melissa Downey, Scott Fowler, David Gomez, Meg Gurin-Paul, Laurie Kanyok, William Marrie, Rod McCune, Jill Nicklaus, Rika Okamoto, Karine Plantadit-Bageot, Lawrence Rabson, Katya Shelkanova, Dana Stackpole and John Todd.
The principals are a group highly steeped in dance, as opposed to theatre. Their prominence in the piece would seem to lend authority to accounts that Movin' Out will be a show heavy on song and dance, and light on book (in fact, no librettist is attached to the project). One source close to project said the musical's tale will be told entirely through Joel's songs and Tharp's footwork. Parkinson and Wise were both featured dancers in the Broadway revue, Fosse. Wise first made his mark in Jerome Robbins' Broadway, winning a Tony for his work. The two hoofers are husband and wife.
Roberts was also in Fosse as well as Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Selya is a veteran of many seasons at American Ballet Theatre. Tuttle also has dozens of ABT ballets to her credit. Much of Bowman's work has been at the New York City Ballet.
All are members of Tharp's own dance group, Twyla Tharp Dance.
The Chicago-to-Broadway route is the same one used by The Producers and, with less fortunate results, Sweet Smell of Success. Rehearsals are to start April 29.
The musical, previously called The Thoel Project, had a workshop over the Oct. 6-7, 2001, weekend. According to press materials, the story concerns "six lifelong friends, told over two turbulent decades. This new musical takes us back to a time we all remember - to the days when almost anything could happen, and the nights when almost everything did."
The show will feature 24 Joel compositions including the songs "Innocent Man," "Big Shot," "River of Dreams" and "Movin' Out."
Designers are Santo Loquasto (sets), Suzy Benzinger (costumes), Donald Holder (lighting) and Brian Ruggles and Peter Fitzgerald (sound).
Stuart Malina is the music director on the venture.
Joel had talked about writing a musical off and on over the years. The self-styled "piano man" from Long Island has steadily hit the pop charts since his breakthrough 1977 album, "The Stranger." Since then, he has recorded such records as "52nd Street," "Glass Houses," "The Nylon Curtain," "Storm Front," "An Innocent Man" and "River of Dreams." Among his best known songs are "Only the Good Die Young," "Just the Way You Are," "My Life," "You May Be Right," "Tell Her About It," "Uptown Girl," "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "A Matter of Trust."
Tickets to Movin' Out range from $40 to $95, and will go on sale Sunday, June 2 and may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100 or www.ticketmaster.com.