ROCK OF AGES Hanggi Helms AND THE CURTAIN RISES at Signature Theatre; Begins 3/17


Virginia's Tony Award®-winning Signature Theatre, through its groundbreaking American Musical Voices Project (AMVP), announces the world premiere of the musical comedy And the Curtain Rises (formerly known as Wheatley's Folly). Beginning performances on Thursday, March 17, 2011, And the Curtain Rises marks the third production presented as part of Signature's AMVP, the largest commissioning program for new musicals in the country, following Michael John LaChiusa's Giant in 2009 and Ricky Ian Gordon's Sycamore Trees last year. The Washington Post has said that "Signature's AMVP is the most ambitious embrace of new musical theater in the DC region."

Directing And the Curtain Rises will be Tony Award® nominee Kristin Hanggi (Broadway's Rock of Ages). Music was composed by Joseph Thalken, one of five composers to garner Signature's prestigious Musical Theatre Composer Grant. The book for And the Curtain Rises is written by Michael Slade with lyrics by Mark Campbell. Working with Hanggi on the creative team are Music Director/Conductor Boko Suzuki, Choreographer Josh Walden, Set Designer Beowulf Boritt, Costume Designer Kathleen Geldard, Lighting Designer Colin K. Bills, and Sound Designer Matt Rowe.

Inspired by true events, And the Curtain Rises tells the outrageous and funny story of how the first American musical - 1866's legendary The Black Crook - was born. This musical comedy follows novice producer William Wheatley as he frantically struggles to save his mess of a play. With a dreadful script, an uncompromising author, a cast on the verge of revolt, and scenery and costumes destroyed, the production is in shambles. Conditions are further complicated when a French ballet troupe is forced to seek refuge in their theatre after their theater burns down next door. Rather than throw in the towel and count his losses, Wheatley decides to take control and turn lemons into lemonade.

The cast for And the Curtain Rises features Nick Dalton (William Wheatley), Rebecca Watson (Millicent Cavendish), Kevin Carolan (C.H. Morton), Jennifer Smith (Rose Morton), Sean Thompson (Charles Barras), Alma Cuervo (Mme. Grimaud), Anna Kate Bocknek (Marie Bonfant), Erick Devine (Jeremiah Burnett), Brian Sutherland (Roman Korda), Erik Altemus (George C. Boniface), William Diggle (James Timoney), and a host of ballerinas.

Eric Schaeffer, Signature Theatre's Artistic Director stated, "We could not be more proud of all that we have been able to accomplish so far with our American Musical Voices Project. It is a vital part of who we are and what Signature represents in the world of musical theater. With this remarkably talented creative team - and the cast we have assembled - I am sure that audiences will thoroughly enjoy being among the very first to witness this very funny and very poignant show."

Performances of And the Curtain Rises run from March, 17 2011 to April 10, 2011. Show times are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. There is no performance on Saturday, March 19 at 2:00pm. The Funders performance on Tuesday, March 29 is at 8:00pm.

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