Ruby Rakos, Jason Danieley, Max von Essen and More to Follow the Yellow Brick Road in 'CHASING RAINBOWS' Labs

By: Jul. 07, 2017
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

Following two successful productions at Flat Rock Playhouse and Goodspeed Musicals, the producers of Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz have announced three private industry lab performances on Thursday, July 13 and Friday, July 14 in New York City.

Chasing Rainbows is conceived and created by Tina Marie Casamento and features a book by Marc Acito (Allegiance), musical adaptation by David Libby (Play it Cool), music direction by Larry Yurman (War Paint) and choreography by Denis Jones (Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn). The lab will be directed by Matt Lenz (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Famed Judy Garland and Oz historian and author John Fricke serves as historian/consultant on the production.

This industry lab will feature Jason Danieley (Curtains), Karen Mason (Mamma Mia!), Michael McCormick (Hello Dolly!), Max von Essen (An American in Paris), Sophie Knapp (Once), Michael Wartella (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Sally Wilfert (Assassins) and Ruby Rakos (Billy Elliot) as Frances Gumm/Judy Garland.

The cast will also feature Tia Altinay (Aladdin), Mackenzie Bell (Sunset Boulevard), Madeleine Doherty (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Tessa Grady (Dames At Sea), Curtis Holland (Shuffle Along), Graham Keen (White Christmas), Andrea Laxton (Beauty And The Beast), Lea Mancarella (A Christmas Story), Christina Maxwell, Kevin B McGlynn(Kiss Me Kate), Samantha Joy Pearlman, Alex Puette (A Christmas Story), Jonalyn Saxer (Cats), Tally Sessions (War Paint), Jack Sippel (Newsies), and Violet Tinnirello as Shirley Temple.

Chasing Rainbows is the story of how Frances Gumm became Judy Garland. In 1938, a young Judy created the iconic role of Dorothy in the beloved movie musical, The Wizard of Oz. Yet, the inspiring story of Judy's journey from performing in Vaudeville with her family to becoming America's sweetheart, remains widely unknown.

As Judy said, "The history of my life is in my songs." Chasing Rainbows brings contemporary life to classic favorites like "Over the Rainbow", "You Made Me Love You", "Everybody Sing" and many more, in order to tell the richly emotional story that was Judy Garland's young life.

Chasing Rainbows features music from Sony/ATV Feist Robbins catalog. Music rights administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. Chasing Rainbows is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Grant.


Matt Lenz (Director) is a NYC based theatre director who has worked all over the world with many of the industry's brightest talents. Most recently he directed the first National tours of A Christmas Story, The Musical and Cheers, Live Onstage. On Broadway - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Catch Me If You Can (Associate Director), Hairspray(Associate Director). Matt also directed the Hairspray national tours (UK, South Africa, Las Vegas, Toronto and German companies), Disney's Beauty and the Beast (Resident Director for Bway and tours) and The Yellow Brick Road Not Taken: Wicked's 5th Anniversary Celebration at the Gershwin Theater. Off-Broadway: Pageant: The Musical, The Irish Curse (Soho Playhouse), Idaho! (New York Music Theatre Festival '08 - "Best Show of Fest" and "Best Director" Awards), Fingers and Toes (NYMF '10). Regional: Hairspray (Paper Mill Playhouse), [title of show] (George Street Playhouse), Idaho! (The Smith Center in Las Vegas & Forestburgh Playhouse), Saint Heaven, Scituate (Stamford Ctr.), Aida, Beauty/Beast, Grease, Hairspray (St. Louis MUNY), The Full Monty, South Pacific, (North Carolina Theatre), Les Miserables, God of Carnage, Aida, Love! Valor! Compassion!, Dirty Blond (Zach Theater, Austin), Confidentially, Cole (Tiffany Theatre, LA). Matt is dedicated to the development of new musicals and is a teaching artist for The Broadway Dreams Foundation and a member of SDC.

Denis Jones (Choreography). Recent credits include the Broadway productions Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn (Studio 54, Tony Nom) and Honeymoon in Vegas (Nederlander Theater). Other credits: The Tempest (Shakespeare in the Park), Moonshine: That Hee-Haw Musical (Dallas Theater Center), Paint Your Wagon (City Center Encores!), Nerds (pre-Broadway), The Sound of Music (Chicago Lyric Opera), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, She Loves Me, Johnny Baseball (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Coraline (MCC), Pirates! (Huntington Theatre), 42nd St, Grease, Spamalot, Chicago (St Louis MUNY), Damn Yankees, Meet Me in St Louis (Paper Mill Playhouse), Elf (5th Ave Theater). Denis was named SDC Callaway Finalist and received a Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Choreography for Signature Theater's Piece of My Heart. Also, Denis has choreographed for The Kennedy Center Honors, Sex and the City 2 (New Line) and "Rosie Live" (NBC) as well as national commercials for Staples and Glade. Upcoming projects include Fancy(workshop), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Goodspeed Opera House), Mary Poppins (Paper Mill Playhouse), A Chorus Line (St Louis MUNY), and Honeymoon in Vegas (Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre).

TINA MARIE CASAMENTO (Conceiving Producer / Additional Lyrics) is a producer, director, teacher, and actress with over 30 years experience in the industry. After successfully pitching her concept for Chasing Rainbows to EMI Music Publishing (thereby securing the rights to the MGM/Feist Robbins music catalog), she has spearheaded this new musical through numerous workshops, readings and two developmental productions. Tina Marie served as Chair and National Theatre/Musical Theatre Panelist of YoungArts for 4 years, and was presented the Teacher Recognition Award by the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. She has directed productions at Infinity Theatre Company, Gallery Players, and Village Light Opera Group. She attended Carnegie Mellon University (acting), as well as the University of Maryland (recipient, full scholarship in Creative and Performing Arts). She performed in the First National tours of Kiss Me Kate (2000 revival, Kate/Hattie u/s) and Victor Victoria (Street Singer), the Fulton Theatre production of Into The Woods (Baker's Wife), and Submissions Only (Poppy Cosgrove). She also brings her 12-plus years as a casting associate for NETworks tours and Bob Cline casting to university masterclasses and workshops throughout the country.

Marc Acito (Book) wrote the book of the Broadway musical Allegiance, which Newsday called "ambitious," recognizing its "well-structured book" and "fully developed characters." Allegiance also won Outstanding New Musical for its run at The Old Globe in San Diego, where it broke the all-time box-office record. Directly after Chasing Rainbows opens at Goodspeed Musicals, Acito will go to China for the world premiere of It's A Secret, which features the music of Jay Chou, the "Chinese King of Pop," directed by Tony Award-winning director John Rando. Acito won the Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play with his comedy Birds of a Feather at his artistic home, the Hub Theater in Fairfax, Virginia. Birds has been produced around the U.S. and in Japan. The Hub also debuted the one-man musical version of his first novel How I Paid For College. The novel itself won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction and was an Editors' Choice for The New York Times. Translated into five languages the author cannot read, it also inspired a sequel, Attack of The Theater People. For City Center Encores, Acito adapted Alan Jay Lerner's script for Paint Your Wagon. Additionally, he wrote the book to A Room With A View, which played at The Old Globe and the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, which then commissioned Dutch Master, about the most notorious art swindle of the 20th Century. For several years, 12 million listeners heard Marc's commentaries on NPR's All Things Considered. Now a regular contributor to Playbill, he has taught Story Structure to hundreds of writers of all mediums.

DAVID LIBBY (Musical Adaptation/Arrangements) was Music Director and played the role of Smokey in the Off-Broadway production of Play it Cool, which was nominated by the Outer Critics Circle for Outstanding New Musical. He was pianist on the national tours of the 2001 Kiss Me Kate revival and Beauty and the Beast. He has composed music for numerous films, including Mister Green (Best Short Film, London Sci-Fi Festival) and Super Power Blues (commissioned by PBS affiliate WNET in New York), as well as online episodes of Marvel Entertainment's The Incredible Hulk and Spiderman. BA, Bowdoin College. MM Jazz Studies, Rutgers University.

JOHN FRICKE (Creative Consultant/Historian) is regarded as the preeminent Judy Garland and Wizard of Oz historian, and he has written seven books on those topics. He's the recipient of Emmy Awards as co-producer of the PBS American Masters and A&E Biography Garland documentaries and is a Grammy Award nominee for his liner notes for the Capitol CD, Judy Garland: 25th Anniversary Retrospective. John has appeared as a programmer and co-host on the Turner Classic Movies network and on The Today Show, CNN, Entertainment Tonight, The Joan Rivers Show, NPR, and Sirius Satellite Radio. He's lectured everywhere from MOMA in NYC, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, to The Deauville Film Festival in France, and has recorded the commentary tracks for the DVDs of seven Garland movies, including The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, and Easter Parade.

Richard Winkler (Producer). Following a 35-year international career as a lighting designer, he has been producing since 2009. Tony Awards: The Norman Conquests, La Cage Aux Folles, Memphis, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike. Other Broadway includes: Come From Away, A Little Night Music, La Bete, Something Rotten!, Hand to God, Disgraced, King Charles III. West End: Dreamgirls, The Glass Menagerie, Memphis, Betrayal, The Children's Hour, Long Day's Journey Into Night (Olivier Award).

JO ANN BONO (Producer). Broadway: The Norman Conquests (Tony Award). (Tony Noms): Next Fall, The Scottsboro Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher, Off-Broadway: Groundswell, 39 Steps. London: Umbrellas of Cherbourg, What You Will, The Scottsboro Boys, Recordings: Bardo by Christopher Bono. Probo Productions is dedicated to promoting awareness of social concerns and triumphs through the development of artistic excellence.

Vote Sponsor