Despite the financial troubles of Livent, the company's planned Broadway revival of Pal Joey is still going forward, albeit slowly. Still in the script stage, Joey is now targeting a Spring 2000 Broadway opening.
According to production spokesperson Mary Bryant (reached Feb. 23), Livent is moving forward with Seussical first, with a reading planned for May and a NYC workshop scheduled for this summer. Bryant said it was too early to know Pal Joey's budgeting, casting and possible venues.
Chicago choreographer Ann Reinking and Ragtime director Frank Galati are working with librettist Terrence McNally on the show, which had a small, private reading in early fall. Sources close to the production told Playbill On-Line performers taking part in the reading included Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard), Harry Connick Jr. and Liz Larsen (A New Brain).
The 1940 musical is based on the John O'Hara short stories about a small time gigolo with big dreams of owning his own nightclub -- funded by his wealthy "benefactress." The score includes "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "In Our Den of Iniquity" and "Zip," but the NY Times reported that Livent had acquired rights to the entire Rodgers & Hart songbook and would incorporate other of their songs into the revival. No titles were mentioned.
The new songs will be chosen to fit McNally's revised book. McNally wrote the libretto to Kiss of the Spider Woman. His plays include Love! Valour! Compassion!, Master Class, and Lips Together, Teeth Apart. The original Pal Joey script was written by O'Hara and George Abbott. The original Broadway production starred Gene Kelly, and launched him to his Hollywood career. A 1952 revival saw Bob Fosse in the title role. A film version starred Frank Sinatra (though minus much of the score).
In addition to her work on Pal Joey, Reinking is serving as co director and co-choreographer for Fosse: A Celebration in Song and Dance, now on Broadway, also under Livent's auspices. Before its financial troubles came to light, Livent had already produced Show Boat, Ragtime and Barrymore.
-- By David Lefkowitz, Mira Friedlander and Robert Simonson