The fraternal acting and writing team of Bob and Jim Walton kick off Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre season May 17 with the world premiere of Double Trouble, a Musical Tour de Farce, a two-man musical cooked up by the brothers.
Double Trouble is a spoof of 1940s Hollywood creative folk, starring and written by brothers Bob Walton (co- author of Off-Broadway's Game Show) and Jim Walton (Merrily We Roll Along, 42nd Street). They tackle book, music and lyrics. The brothers appeared together in Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 for Encores! In the new show, the siblings play the musical Martin brothers, who are given eight hours to write a big number for a new musical being filmed by MMG Studios. They play many characters in the story.
Performances continue to June 10 at the Goodspeed space devoted to new or developing works, in Chester, CT.
Ray Roderick, associate director of The Music Man on Broadway (where Jim has been the standby Harold Hill), directs. Darlene Wilson choreographs.
John Glaudini is musical director. Designers are Edward Gianfrancesco (set), Martha Bromelmeier (costumes) and Eric T. Haugen (lighting). Tickets are $32. The Norma Terris Theatre is on North Main Street in Chester, CT (Exit 6 off Route 9). For ticket information, call (860) 873-8668.
As the theatre does not invite critics to these in-process (yet fully staged) shows, there is no official opening night designated.
The season of new or developing musicals at the prestigious nonprofit includes Great Expectations by librettist lyricist John Jakes and composer Mel Marvin (Aug. 2-26) and Christopher McGovern and Amy Powers' developing Lizzie Borden (Nov. 1-25), somewhat revised since its 1998 world premiere in Teaneck, NJ.
Novelist John Jakes ("North and South," "The Bastard") penned the book and lyrics to music by Mel Marvin for the Dickens drawn Great Expectations, which follows the growth of young Pip, from dreamer to gentleman. Composer Marvin is known for Elmer Gantry, Tintypes and The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm. Kent Thompson, of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, directs.
Lizzie Borden takes a whack at retelling the story of the real-life, infamous hatchet murder in 1892 Massachusetts. Bill Castellino, who directed and choreographed a previous staging of it, is expected to shepherd the Chester mounting. The tuner (whose website has animation of dripping blood on it) has book and lyrics by Amy Powers and Christopher McGovern and music by McGovern. It had a world premiere staging in fall 1998 by American Stage Company in Teaneck, NJ, with Alison Fraser in the title role. The music is documented on a single disc cast album on the Original Cast Records label.
McGovern also wrote The Ugly Duck for Theatreworks/USA, and is the resident composer/lyricist for Stages of Imagination in Philadelphia. He has also music directed throughout the country. Powers penned additional lyrics for Sunset Boulevard.
The Norma Terris Theatre is the space where Goodspeed Musicals presents new, newly-revised and developing work. The Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT, is the company's mainstage, which also houses new works, but focuses mainly on revivals. Season subscriptions to The Norma Terris Theatre season are $84 for three shows. For information, call (860) 873-8668 or visit www.goodspeed.org.
The sensational Lizzie Borden case in Fall River, MA., has previously inspired the Jack Beeson opera, Lizzie Borden and Agnes DeMille's ballet, Fall River Legend. There is also another Lizzie Borden musical with an all-female casting concept, Frozen River, by composer-lyricist Danny Musha and librettist-lyricist Stephen Wallem. That show has had developmental readings in New York and Chicago.
— By Kenneth Jones