Chuck Cooper and Bronson Pinchot star in Nicolette and Aucassin, a new musical with book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg and music by David Friedman, which will end its run at the Westport Country Playhouse Sept. 9. With Nicolette's final performance, the Westport season comes to a close.
Cooper won a Tony Award for his commanding performance as a merciless pimp in Cy Coleman's musical, The Life. He will play King Mostansir is this musical take of a 12th-century French fable.
Bronson Pinchot made a splash, critically and literally, in the recent Central Park production of A Winter's Tale. Also in the cast is Pinchot's Winter's Tale colleague Bill Buell, Jolson & Co. star and Drama Desk nominee Nancy K. Anderson, Jennifer Allen, Darlesia Cearcy (as Nicolette), James Judy, Jeremy Webb (as Aucassin), Richard White and Michael Wiggins. Seth Barrish directs.
Friedman told Playbill On-Line that N&A had been workshopped in New York City, but that the Westport staging represented the musical's first production. Friedman is well known in the musical theatre, film and cabaret worlds. He is a former Broadway conductor and has also conducted and arranged the scores for many Disney animated films. Additionally, he penned many songs for the late cabaret singer Nancy LaMott. N&A is his first major musical as a composer.
* The Westport season opened with The Constant Wife, directed by Joanne Woodward (who has taken a management position at the theatre this year), and continued with Austin Pendleton's Orson's Shadow, A.R. Gurney's Ancestral Voices, starring Woodward and Paul Newman, David Wiltse's Triangles for Two, starring Jayne Atkinson and Jeffrey Jones, and Morphic Resonance, directed by James Naughton.
The Westport Country Playhouse was founded in 1931 by Laurence Langer, the co-founder of the Theatre Guild. The 1830 barn Langer selected was converted into a theatre by architect Cleon Throckmorton, who had also designed the Cape Playhouse in East Dennis, MA. The stage was given the same dimensions at Broadway's Times Square Theatre, in order to better serve the transfer of plays from Westport to New York.
Appearing in the theatre's early years were such actors as Helen Hayes, Eva Le Gallienne, Jessica Tandy and Henry Fonda. The Playhouse also occasionally hosted play tryouts, which went on to success on Broadway, including Blue Denim, Come Back, Little Sheba and Butterflies Are Free.
Tickets are $10-$38. The Westport Playhouse is located off Route 1 in Westport, CT. Call (203) 227-4177 or contact the website at www.westportplayhouse.com.
--By Robert Simonson