Broadway-Aimed THE BOOK OF MERMAN Sets Cast for Industry Reading, Including Carolee Carmello and Mox Von Essen!

By: Oct. 20, 2016

An Equity staged reading of "The Book Of Merman", a new play with music tracing the ups and downs of the famed Broadway star affectionately known as "the Merm", is currently rehearsing for private presentations to industry producers and insiders.

Set for the cast is three-time Tony Nominee Carolee Carmello ("Scandalous", "Parade", "Lestat", "Finding Neverland") as Ms. Merman, two-time Tony nominee and Emmy winner Penny Fuller ("The Dinner Party", "Applause", TV's "The Elephant Man") as Ethel's best friend Benay Venuta as well as Max von Essen (Tony nominee of "American in Paris"), Burke Moses ("Disney's Beauty & the Beast", "Guys and Dolls", "Kiss Me Kate") playing Ethel's 3rd husband Bob Six and Jim Newman ("Hands On A Hard Body", "Steel Pier") playing 2nd husband Robert Levitt.

Rounding out the cast are Jeremy Benton, Richard Bell, Larry Daggett, Alex Hopkins, Rick Roemer and Lauri Landry.

The play is written and directed by Drama Desk winner Richard Sabellico ("I Can Get it for You Wholesale", "A Majority of One", "The Cocoanuts") and stage managed by Adolpho Blaire. The play is based upon Brian Kellow's biography "Ethel Merman: a Life" and features music from some of the Golden Age of Broadway's biggest hits - "Gypsy", "Annie Get Your Gun", "Anything Goes", "Call Me Madam", "Panama Hattie" and more.

According to the press notes: "The Book Of Merman" sets out to reacquaint today's audiences with not only Ethel's larger than life persona, but also with the era which Merman dominated; the Golden Age of Musical Theatre. Although that era, the 30s through the 60s, may be a dim memory to the current theatregoing public, this new play illuminates the vitality and originality of a singular talent as well as a burdgeoning artform that's indiginous to America. "The Book Of Merman" showcases not only the public persona but also the private one - a lady vulnerable and riddled with self doubt.

Ethel Merman was a Broadway institution known as the "undisputed First Lady of the musical comedy stage." After being discovered by Vinton Freedley as a singer at Brooklyn's Paramount movie theatre, she was signed to star in the Gershwin's new Broadway hit "Girl Crazy" where she stopped the show nightly with her performance of "I Got Rhythm". This launched a Broadway career that spanned more than 40 years starring in 13 more Broadway shows including "Anything Goes", "Red, Hot and Blue", "DuBarry Was a Lady", "Panama Hattie", "Something for the Boys", "Annie Get Your Gun", "Call Me Madam", "Happy Hunting" and "Gypsy". Her canon of signature songs feature some of America and Broadway's most beloved standards including "There's No Business Like Show Business", "Everything's Coming Up Roses", "You're the Top", "Some People", "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries", "You're Just in Love", "I Get a Kick Out of You", "Friendship" and "The Hostess with Mostes" and have been written by a seemingly who's who of songwriters including Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Jule Styne and more. Her final Broadway star turn was as the last Dolly Levi in Jerry Herman's smash "Hello, Dolly!" - a role that was originally intended for her while it was being written.

Miss Merman also starred in films, most notably "There's No Business Like Show Business" with Donald O'Connor, Marilyn Monroe, and Mitzi Gaynor; television shows and was a recording artist throughout her life. Passing away in 1984 at the age of 76, she left behind a legacy of a full career, a trademark vocal style and a larger than life personality that would live on entertainment history.

The reading hopes to attract potential investment for a planned 2017 workshop here in NYC as well as a possible regional debut in the 2017-18 season.


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