Photo Flash: Walnut Street Theatre's MUSICAL OF MUSICALS
The Walnut Street Theatre's 2009-2010 Independence Studio on 3 season concludes with an all-new production of Eric Rockwell and JoAnne Bogart's genre-hopping tribute to some of Broadway's greatest: The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!). In a comic satire of musical theatre genres, one story becomes five musicals, each in the distinctive style of a different master of the form, from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Stephen Sondheim. The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) starts on May 4th, opens May 6th and continues through June 27th in the Walnut's Independence Studio on 3.
The plot is simple: June, an ingénue who can't pay the rent, is threatened by her evil landlord. Will the handsome leading man come to her rescue? In an evening of variations on a theme, this basic plot is musicalized the way Rodgers and Hammerstein might have envisioned it, taking place in Kansas in August, complete with a Dream Ballet. The story is then done in the style of Stephen Sondheim, featuring the landlord as a tortured, artistic genius who slashes the throats of his tenants in revenge because they don't appreciate his art. When presented in the style of Jerry Herman, the story becomes a splashy star vehicle, while the Andrew Lloyd Webber version is a rock musical, with borrowed themes from Puccini. The story is re-told one last time in the style of Kander and Ebb, set in a speakeasy in Chicago. What you get in the end is a funny and flagrantly tongue-n-cheek valentine to the Great White Way: The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)
Creators Eric Rockwell and JoAnne Bogart began their collaboration in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. For The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) they were honored with a 2004 Drama Desk nomination for Best Musical, as well as individual nominations for Best Music and Best Lyrics. The show ran Off-Broadway for 583 performances and also was performed on London's West End. In addition, the show received a 2004 Lucille Lortel nomination for Best Musical and a 2005 Drama League nomination for Best Musical.
The cast of The Musical of Musicals includes Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Sarah Gliko, Rebecca Robbins, Craig Fols and Alex Bechtel. Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Willy) has been seen previously at the Walnut in this season's powerful mainstage production of The Eclectic Society. Elsewhere, Carl has garnered rave reviews in recent productions of Little Shop of Horrors and Avenue X (11th Hour) and last summer's Philly Fringe production of Topdog/Underdog. Sarah Gliko (June) was a member of the Walnut's Barrymore-Nominated Ensemble for 2008's The Irish and How They Got That Way. Sarah has been seen elsewhere performing for the Arden Theatre Co. (James Joyce's The Dead), Media Theatre (Pump Boys...) and Theatre Horizon (Holiday Show). Rebecca Robbins (Abby) has been seen on Broadway, (A Tale of Two Cities) Off-Broadway (Fanny, New Moon) and right here on the Walnut Mainstage in Oliver!, Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Evita and She Loves Me. Rounding out the Cast are Craig Fols (Jitter) and Alex Bechtel.
Director Craig Fols has a long and storied history with The Musical of Musicals. He was Willy in the original New York production of The Musical of Musicals. As one of the "Fab Four"-a team whose other members were authors Rockwell and Bogart and the late, great Lovette George-he helped develop the show at the BMI Workshop, opened it to rave reviews at the York Theatre, recorded the cast album (Jay Records), and moved with the show to Dodger Stages. All in all, the original cast gave more than 500 performances, and performed for many of the musical theatre icons they parodied: Stephen Sondheim, Kander and Ebb, Hal Prince and Carol Channing, to name several. He is delighted to return to the Walnut Street Theatre, where he created the role of Kenneth Halliwell in the world premiere of Lanie Robertson's drama Nasty Little Secrets in 1984. A South Jersey native (Medford Lakes) and proud AEA Member (since 1983), he has spent a lifetime working in the theatre as an actor, playwright, director, librettist and lyricist.
Craig is joined by Choreographer Dax Valdes, whose work has been seen in New York for the NYC Fringe (John and Greg's High School Reunion), Millbrook Playhouse (Altar Boyz, How to Succeed...) and Prospect Theatre Company (Honor, EVERGREEN). Musical Director, actor and accompanist Alex Bechtel is a Philadelphia based artist whose recent credits include work with Theatre Horizon (Honk!), New Paradise Laboratories (FATEBOOK) and 1812 Productions (This Is The Week That Is).
Behind the scenes, the Walnut welcomes back Scenic Designer Robert Kramer, Costume Designer Mary Folino, Lighting Designer J. Dominic Chacon, and Sound Designer Christopher Colucci.
Season sponsors for the 2009-2010 Independence Studio on 3 Season are The Independence Foundation and Macy's East. Media season sponsors are Philadelphia Weekly and WRTI Radio. Tickets are $30 and are now available at 215-574-3550 or 215-336-1234. Tickets are also available at WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.
Photo Credit: Mark Garvin