Jared Grimes, Hayley Podschun, Donna McKechnie and More to Sway in CAREFREE: DANCIN' WITH FRED AND GINGER Tryout Tour

By: Oct. 18, 2016

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and RKO Stage announce the cast for the world premiere of Carefree: Dancin' with Fred & Ginger, an all-new tribute to American cinema's most iconic pair, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Tony Award-winner Warren Carlyle directs and choreographs this original musical spectacular.

The production opens a tryout tour at NJPAC's Victoria Theater on November 4 and 5 at 7:30pm, then moves to Princeton's McCarter Theatre Center on November 6. The tour continues throughout the Northeast with stops in Wilkes-Barre, PA; New London, CT; and Poughkeepsie, NY. A national tour is planned for 2017.

Leading the cast in this homage to the greatest dance duo of Tinseltown's golden era is Jared Grimes (2014 Fred & Adele Astaire Award for best male dancer in Broadway's After Midnight), Hayley Podschun (Something Rotten!, Hairspray, Chaplin) with special guest appearance by Broadway legend Donna McKechnie (Tony Award winner for A Chorus Line). The cast also features David Elder (Curtains, 42nd Street, Titanic, Kiss Me, Kate), Drew King (On the Twentieth Century) and Tessa Grady (Dames at Sea, Cinderella).

The design team includes Alexander V. Nichols (scenic/lighting/projection design), Matt Kraus (sound design) and Amy Clark (costume design).

A live onstage band will strike up American Songbook favorites by composers such as Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and the Gershwins, who found a new avenue for their music in the cinema with classic songs including "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Cheek to Cheek," "I Won't Dance," and "The Way You Look Tonight."

Carlyle - the Tony Award-winning dancemaker of After Midnight - collaborated with book writer Peter Duchan (off-Broadway's Dogfight), combining more than two dozen show-stopping numbers from RKO's catalog to create a fizzy cocktail of live music with state-of-the-art digital projections and floor-splintering tapping.

"The sheer beauty that Fred and Ginger brought to the screen was an antidote for the anguish endured by America during the 1930s," says NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber. "But when it comes to lifting sprits, their healing powers are still just as effective."

Ted Hartley, RKO Stage CEO and Lead Creative Producer, says, "Carefree: Dancin' with Fred & Ginger promises a magical evening that will delight audiences of all ages."

Tickets, priced from $65 to $85, are available online at njpac.org; by calling 1.888.GO.NJPAC (888.466.5722); or visiting the NJPAC Box Office at One Center Street.


Jared Grimes performed under Warren Carlyle's direction in Cotton Club Parade at City Center Encores! and won the 2014 Fred & Adele Astaire Award for best male dancer in Broadway's After Midnight. His other theater credits include Twist, directed by Debbie Allen, and Babes in Arms at the Goodspeed Opera. As a dancer, he has toured with the likes of Mariah Carey, Common, Salt-n-Pepa, En Vogue, Busta Rhymes and the Roots. As a choreographer, Grimes created dances for Cirque du Soleil, assisted with the Tupac Shakur Broadway musical, Holler If Ya Hear Me, and, most recently choreographed the musical Jelly's Last Jam at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. Film and TV credits: the feature film Breaking Brooklyn with director Paul Becker, Fringe (FOX) and Boardwalk Empire (HBO).

Hayley Podschun's numerous Broadway and national tour credits include Wicked(Glinda), Something Rotten!, Chaplin, Anything Goes, Sunday in the Park with George, Hairspray, The Sound of Music and the upcoming revival of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler. Her film and television credits include Hail, Caesar!, Hairspray, and Louie.

Donna McKechnie received the Tony Award for her performance in the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line. Her other Broadway shows include The Visit, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N, Sondheim: A Musical Tribute, On the Town, Promises, Promises, Company, and State Fair, for which she received the Astaire Award. McKechnie also played the lead in Bob Fosse's last production of Sweet Charity, and has starred in numerous productions in London's West End as well as Paris and Tokyo. Her memoir, Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life was published by Simon & Schuster.

David Elder has appeared in the Broadway productions of Curtains; 42nd Street (Astaire and Outer Critics award nominations); Kiss Me, Kate; Titanic, Once Upon a Mattress, Damn Yankees starring Jerry Lewis, Beauty and the Beast, and Guys and Dolls. Film/TV: Across the Universe, Cradle Will Rock and Jeffrey.

Tessa Grady's Broadway credits include Dames at Sea, Annie and Cinderella (also first national tour); and off-Broadway's First Wives Club, Chasing Rainbows and The Anthem.

Drew King made his Broadway debut in On the Twentieth Century starring Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher. He was in the national tour of Elf and has been seen in productions at Goodspeed Opera House, Paper Mill Playhouse and the Kennedy Center.


Warren Carlyle (Director/Choreographer) directed and choreographed the Broadway musical After Midnight (Tony Award for Best Choreography), Chaplin, Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, A Tale of Two Cities, and the critically acclaimed, Tony-nominated Finian's Rainbow. As a choreographer, his Broadway credits include the recent production of She Loves Me, On the Twentieth Century, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, A Christmas Storyand the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies at the Marquis Theatre. He also directed and choreographed the 2015 New York Spring Spectacular starring the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Carlyle has been nominated for two Tonys, six Drama Desk Awards and an Emmy Award; he is the recipient of the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award and the Astaire Award for choreography. He is represented on film and television by Deception starring Hugh Jackman, Hope and Faith (ABC), An Evening at the Boston Pops (PBS), and Elton John's Made in England music video. Carlyle received a 2013 Emmy nomination for his work on Carousel for Live at Lincoln Center(PBS). He is currently choreographing the upcoming Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!starring Bette Midler.

Peter Duchan (Book) wrote the book of the musical Dogfight, which premiered at Second Stage (director, Joe Mantello). Dogfight won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and was nominated for five Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Off-Broadway Musical and Book of a Musical. The London production was nominated for two Evening Standard Awards, including Best Musical. Other theater credits include writing the original musical Stu for Silverton, which had its premiere at the Intiman Theater (Seattle Times Footlight Award for Best New Musical). Film credits include co-writing the screenplays for the feature Breaking Upwards (IFC Films) and the short Unlocked (Tribeca Film Festival). Honors: Richard Rodgers Award, 2011; Dramatists Guild Fellowship, 2011-2012. Graduate, Northwestern University.

Alexander V. Nichols (Scenic/Lighting/Projections) designs lighting, scenery and projections for theater, opera, music and dance for companies across the United States and abroad. Broadway: Wishful Drinking, Hugh Jackman - Back On Broadway, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Off-Broadway: In Masks Outrageous and Austere, Los Big Names, Horizon, Bridge and Tunnel, Taking Over, Through the Night, and In the Wake. Dance credits include Resident Designer for Pennsylvania Ballet, Hartford Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, and as lighting supervisor for American Ballet Theatre and resident visual designer for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company since 1989. Upcoming: Nixon in China (L.A. Philharmonic), Latin History for Morons by John Leguizamo (Public Theater), The Optimistic Tragedy (S.F. Ballet) and Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (Acorn Theater at Theater Row).

Amy Clark (Costume Design)Broadway: A Night with Janis Joplin, Chaplin (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations). Off Broadway: Stupid F*&#! Bird, The Ding Dong, Heathers: The Musical, Cagney, Unlock'd, Animals Out of Paper, All That Intimacy, Jayson With A Y, Dreams of The Washer King, Apple Cove, Dramatis Personae. Other selected designs: Vocalosity, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus presents Circus Extreme '15 and Legend's '14, On Your Toes forCity Center Encores!. Awarded the 2012 Theatre Hall of Fame Emerging Artists fellowship. MFA from NYU. Amyclarkdesign.com

Matt Kraus (Sound Design) Broadway: Kristin Chenoweth: A Love letter to Broadway, Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony; Liza's at the Palace...! Other productions: Disney's Broadway and Beyond, American Dance Machine, Dinner with the Boys, 50 Shades the Musical, Forbidden Broadway, Classic Stage Company-Man's a Man, Chalk Circle with Duncan Sheik; Super Fly with Bill T. Jones; World Goes Round (Bucks County Playhouse); Lend Me a Tenor and Newsies (Paper Mill Playhouse).

John O'Neill (Music Director/Orchestrations) Broadway/NY credits: Cabaret(Conductor), A Chorus Line (Conductor), Radio City Spring Spectacular (Composer, Arranger, Conductor), Jacques Brel... (Musical Director), Jesus Christ Superstar, Annie, Curtains, Boy From Oz. Regional credits: Barry Manilow's Harmony (LA Ovation, Broadway World, Best Musical Direction),Paper Mill Playhouse (cast recording Children Of Eden), Two River Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival, Berkshire Theater Festival, North Carolina Theater for the Arts. Tours: West Side Story (First National), A Chorus Line (First National), Cabaret (Japan), Forever Plaid. Faculty vocal coach for Juilliard Drama Division (6 years) Rutgers University, CAP 21.

Ben Krauss (Orchestrations) Broadway: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (orchestration associate). Concerts and benefits: Kristin Chenoweth at Carnegie Hall; Westport Country Playhouse Something Wonderful Gala; Broadway Backwards 8, 9, 10, 11; Gypsy of the Year 2014, 2015; Easter Bonnet 2015. Krauss' orchestration and arrangements have been heard at 54 Below, the Metropolitan Room, and the Cutting Room. Additionally, Krauss is an alumnus of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.


New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey - where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state's and the world's best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted more than 10 million visitors (including over 1.5 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.

RKO Stage draws on the theatrical rights from the RKO Pictures library as well as original and acquired properties, blending a classic sensibility with contemporary style, to produce theater for audiences worldwide. By developing partnerships with non-profit theaters, commercial producers, and theater owners, RKO Stage is able to utilize a multi-layered approach to creating theatrical productions for Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theaters, and beyond.

Eva Price (Executive Producer) was named one of Crain's NY 40 Under Forty Rising Business Stars and is a member of The Broadway League's Board of Governors. Selected Broadway Credits: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on Broadway!, On Your Feet!, Dear Evan Hansen, Peter and The Starcatcher (5 Tony Awards), Colin Quinn Long Story Short (Directed by Jerry Seinfeld), Annie (Tony-nominated Musical Revival), The Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino (Tony nominated Play Revival), Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking, The Addams Family (starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth), as well as several other solo shows and critically acclaimed concerts starring The Temptations & The Four Tops, Kathy Griffin, Lewis Black, and Hershey Felder. Recent Off Broadway and touring projects include the Drama Desk nominated Found (Atlantic Theater Company & Philadelphia Theater Company), Benjamin Scheuer's Drama Desk winning The Lion, and Bess Wohl's critically acclaimed Small Mouth Sounds, The Hip Hop Nutcracker (featuring Rap Icon Kurtis Blow), as well as The Magic School Bus Live! The Climate Challenge, Ella: The Ella Fitzgerald Musical.

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