The Production Company today announced the three classic Broadway musicals that make up season 2014. In their sixteenth year, TPC will present La Cage aux Folles and Show Boat, as well as bringing back perennial favourite Guys and Dolls.
Ken Mackenzie Forbes (below) introduced the shows and stars today in a special preview of the season at Raheen, home of The Production Company dynamo Jeanne Pratt (above). A change this year will be the move of opening nights from Wednesday to Saturday nights.
What better way to kick off a season of Broadway favourites than with a trip to Broadway itself? Damon Runyon’s legendary characters are back as TPC revives timeless hit Guys and Dolls. Frank Loesser’s 1950 musical, with book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, has been in high rotation ever since the original Broadway season, which ran for 1200 performances. The snappy Donmar Warehouse production toured Australia in 2008-09 starring Marina Prior, who also headlined as Miss Adelaide when TPC last produced Guys and Dolls in 2000.
Currently wowing Sydney audiences in Sweet Charity, Martin Crewes (Chess) and Verity Hunt-Ballard (Mary Poppins) will star as professional gambler Sky Masterson and devout missionary Sister Sarah Brown. Miss Adelaide, the well know fiancée, will be played by Chelsea Plumley (Promises, Promises), with TPC favourite Adam Murphy (The Pirates of Penzance) as good old reliable Nathan.
Coming off the sensational stagings of Chess (2012) and Gypsy (2013), director Gale Edwards will be going for a hat trick of hits with this production. Edwards will team again with music director Guy Simpson. Choreography will be by Nathan M Wright, with costumes by Tim Chappel and scenery by Shaun Gurton.
Guys and Dolls will play 10 performances at State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 19–27 July 2014.
Dramatic and visionary for its time, Show Boat took to the Broadway stage in 1927, long before the boom in book musicals that took flight in 1943 with Oklahoma!. Composer Jerome Kern was joined by lyricist, and book writer, Oscar Hammerstein II for this beloved backstage musical that spawned a trunk-load of hit songs, such as “Ol’ Man River.” “Bill” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.”
Hal Prince’s epic Broadway revival of Show Boat toured Australia in 1998, starring Marina Prior as Magnolia, with Barry Otto and Nancye Hayes as riverboat owners Cap’n Andy and Parthy.
Gareth Keegan, who has been building up a solid body of work in Next to Normal, Moonshadow, Atlantis in Concert, The Pirates of Penzance and this month’s Blood Brothers, will surely cement his fast-rising leading man status as troubled gambler Gaylord Ravenal. Opposite Keegan will be Alinta Chidzey (Singin’ in the Rain) as Magnolia, with Christina O’Neill (Sunday in the Park with George) as mixed-race singer Julie.
Long time TPC contributor Roger Hodgman (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) will direct Show Boat, with music direction by Kellie Dickerson (Legally Blonde) and choreography by Dana Jolly. Christina Smith will design the set, with costumes by Isaac Lummis.
Show Boat will cruise onto the State Theatre stage for 10 performances 16–24 August 2014.
Audiences will be humming to Jerry Herman’s wonderful music again when La Cage aux Folles returns to the Melbourne stage. The much-loved 1983 musical boasts the extraordinary achievement of not only winning the Tony Award for Best Musical, but also winning Best Revival for its two return visits to Broadway. Predating the current debate over same-sex marriage by almost 30 years, the show delivers a touching gay love story with gentle humour and affection.
Having already played Georges in London’s West End, Simon Burke (above left) is a natural choice for the charming lead role here. As his adored Albin, who stars twice nightly as the glamorous Zaza, will be Todd McKenney (above) (Grease, The Boy from Oz). Rhonda Burchmore and Marg Downey will play featured roles.
The dream team of director Dean Bryant and choreographer Andrew Hallsworth (The Producers) will return for their fourth TPC season. Music direction will be by Mathew Frank, with scenery by Dale Ferguson and costumes by Owen Phillips.
The 2014 TPC season will end with a change of location, when La Cage aux Folles plays 17 performances in Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, 22 November – 7 December 2014.
Subscription packages are now on sale, with single tickets to go on sale 5 May 2014. Subscriptions start from only $120 for C reserve. TPC will again offer half price tickets for audience members under 18 years of age.
Full details are available at The Production Company.
Photos: Simon Parris