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Longer Workshop for Tale of 2 Cities After Bell Leaves

Jill Santoriello's epic musical version of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities will add two weeks to its workshop schedule after the departure of director/choreographer David H. Bell; it was originally set to end on August 11th.

Bell left the show on account of immediate personal problems.  In the meantime, Santoriello, who wrote the book, lyrics and music of the Broadway-bound show, will continue working with musical director Wendy Cavett and the cast of 33 while producers Barbra Russell, Ron Sharpe and Ron Phelps search for a replacement for Bell.

The opening of the Chicago production has now been pushed back to the tentative date of February 9th; the show will play the Chicago Theatre. The pop opera was originally slated for a Broadway run to begin previews in April, but now a later preview date is possible as well.  A theatre has not yet been selected though the production will cost the producers at least $14 million.

The production's design team will boast Gregory Gale (costumes) and Jim Joy (sets), with orchestrations by Edward Kessel, and Barry Moss as the casting director.

An announcement from last summer's concert described the plot thus: "Set against the epic backdrop of the French Revolution and based on the classic Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities is a sweeping musical about injustice, vengeance and the redemptive power of love. When Dr. Manette is released from the French Bastille after 17 years, he must be resurrected from the brink of madness by his daughter, Lucie. In England they meet two very different men: the exiled French aristocrat, Charles Darnay, whom Lucie marries, and the drunken cynic, Sydney Carton. Soon family secrets and political intrigue combine to draw Lucie and her family back to Paris. At the height of the Reign of Terror, the musical finds an unlikely hero in Carton, inspired by love to make an extraordinary sacrifice."

A summer 2004 concert production was mounted at off-Broadway's Little Shubert Theatre. Primed to attract industry attention, it featured a cast of 20 and an orchestra of the same number. The concert starred James Barbour (Jane Eyre, Assassins) as Sydney, Jenny Powers (Little Women) as Lucie Manette, Gary Morris as Dr. Manette, Gavin Creel (La Cage aux Folles) as Charles Darnay and Michelle Dawson (Ragtime) as Madame Defarge.

Further back in the musical's history, A Tale of Two Cities was a finalist in the Eugene O'Neill Center Musical Theatre Workshop and received a symphonic concert in Indianapolis featuring a 40-piece orchestra and a 50-voice chorale that was narrated by Man of La Mancha star Richard Kiley. In addition, 56 vocalists including Bryce Dallas Howard, Paul Castree, J. Mark McVey, Christiane Noll, Peter Samuel, Alex Santoriello, Tim Shew, Natalie Toro and Nick Wyman leant their voices to a 23-track concept recording of the musically-lush score that also featured the Indianapolis Symphony and New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra.

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