Casting Announced for THEATER BOYS at the 13th Street Rep
Casting has just been announced for the 13th Street Rep's production of ASCAP Award-winning playwright Chip Deffaa's new musical comedy "Theater Boys." The show, which opens September 21st, will run in repertory this Fall at the 13th Street Theater (50 W. 13th Street, NYC, www.13thstreetrep.org) with Deffaa's musical play "One Night with Fanny Brice" starring Chloe Brooks.
"Theater Boys," with book, music, and lyrics by Deffaa, will co-star Michael Bartkiewicz and Joseph Spitale, with other principals including Andrew Lanctot, Sam Donnenberg, Michael Czyz, Philip Louis Calabro, Ben Orlando, Joris DeGraaf, Danny Koelho, Matthew Meyers, and Taylor Martin. Supporting players and swings include Mark Andrew Garner, Elliot Ross Halperin, Will Meredith, Travis James, Hawkins Davis Gardow. Music director Richard Danley, choreographer Tyler DuBoys, and assistant director Peter Charney, who served this summer on Deffaa's last production at the theater, "Irving Berlin's America," will return for this production, joined by co-choreographer Alex Acevedo, according to the theater's producing artistic director, Sandra Nordgren.
Casting this full-length original musical-about guys auditioning for a gay musical-has taken longer than usual, according to Norgdren; auditions at the theater continued for a week. And writer/director Deffaa-the author of 15 published plays--notes: "Just as with my previous shows, I've looked beyond the USA to find the right actors. For example, I sent copies of the script to the Dutch actor Joris DeGraaf in the Netherlands, and to Danny Koelho in Brazil, and they said yes. DeGraaf is flying in from Amsterdam tomorrow, when we're having out first read-through at the theater. But I'm getting used to looking beyond the US for talent; New York theater isn't just for New Yorkers anymore. Jon Peterson, who starred in my Off-Broadway show 'George M. Cohan Tonight!' at the Irish Repertory Theater-and is still playing it on the road-was born and raised in England. Giuseppe Bausilio, the co-star of my show 'Irving Berlin's America'--and currently featured on Broadway in 'Newsies'-is a Swiss citizen."
The most popular audition song this year, according to Deffaa, is Stephen Schwartz's "Corner of the Sky," from "Pippin." "I don't need to hear that song again for a while," noted Deffaa. "The hardest casting decision I had to make was between two Canadians, Michael Czyz and Ken Adams, who both sang 'Corner of the Sky' equally brilliantly, and were amazingly identical in terms of other talents as well. I had trouble telling them apart. I flipped a coin and offered Czyz a role in this show, and am offering Adams a role in the next show of mine that I'm mounting at the 13th Street Repertory Theater, right after this one opens--'Mad About the Boy.'"
Actors are more likely to stand out as individuals if they choose audition songs others are not doing, Deffaa suggests. "While this cast includes some people I've long known and worked with, it also includes some newcomers, like Michael Bartkiewicz--fresh off the road from a tour. He chose for his audition song an obscure Peter Mills song from 'The Taxi Cabaret'-which I've never heard anyone sing since that show first opened. The novelty of an absolutely unique song, sung well-after others sang oh-so-familiar numbers by, say, Stephen Schwartz or Sondheim--helped make him more memorable."
An earlier version of "Theater Boys" premiered at the Fresh Fruit Festival (Carol Polcovar, artistic director). The show's popularity in its festival tryout eventually led to the 13th Street Rep's decision to present a new version of the show for a longer run at their theater.
A cast album of "Theater Boys," recorded by Slau Halatyn at BeSharp Studios, is in the works, and is scheduled to be released on Original Cast Records in October.
The first regional production of "Theater Boys" is scheduled for this winter, when Stageworks, under the direction of Don Brown, will mount their own production of Deffaa's show, with Drew Smith, Devon Darrow and company, in Rochester. Deffaa reflects: "It will be fun to see how the Rochester production might differ from our New York production. It'd be great if we could bring the Rochester company down to NYC for a weekend, to strut their stuff in a guest appearance at the 13th Street Rep," Deffaa remarked. "I love giving audiences chances to see different performers interpret the same role. We've had several different actresses, ranging in age from 17 to 45, star in my show 'One Night with Fanny Brice' in New York City, since it first opened Off-Broadway in 2011. This past summer, Patricia Dell, a seasoned pro in her 60s, starred in the show up in the Catskills; we're going to present her for one night in September, in New York City, just so people can see another interpretation."