STAGE TUBE: MINSKY'S Gregg Barnes on Costuming Burlesque

By: Jan. 02, 2009
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Minsky's is a big, racy, new musical comedy set in a time when entertainment was about legs and laughs, and you had to push the limits to keep the customers buying tickets. A rollicking backstage story, set in Prohibition Era New York City, that peeks into a world populated by comedians, con men and seductive, sexy women; a world reigned over by the king of burlesque himself, Billy Minsky - until the day he falls in love and the cops come banging on his door. Tony Award winning costume designer Gregg Barnes talked about his creations for MINSKY'S on the show's official site in a wonderful audio/video essay that we are excited to bring you here on BWW TV!

Casting is complete and rehearsals have begun for the world premiere of "Minsky's," which opens February 6, 2009, at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre and continues through March 1 (previews begin January 21).

Featuring music by three-time Tony Award-winning composer Charles Strouse ("Bye Bye Birdie," "Annie," "Applause") and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead ("Jelly's Last Jam" and "Triumph of Love"), "Minsky's" is Center Theatre Group's second collaboration with Tony Award-winning writer Bob Martin and director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw ("The Drowsy Chaperone").

The cast features Christopher Fitzgerald (Billy Minsky), Katharine Leonard (Minsky's love interest Mary), Rachel Dratch, George Wendt and Beth Leavel along with John Cariani, Gerry Vichi, Kevin Cahoon and Paul Vogt.

Ensemble members include Megan Nicole Arnoldy, Nathan Balser, Roxane Barlow, Jennifer Bowles, Kirsten Bracken, Jennifer Frankel, Linda Griffin, Blake Hammond, Philip Hoffman, Stacey Todd Holt, Marc Kessler, Sabra Lewis, Matt Loehr, Ariel Reid, Jeffrey Schecter, Angie Schworer, Sarrah Strimel, Charlie Sutton, Jennifer Werner and Patrick Wetzel.

Presented by special arrangement with Bob Boyett and Kevin McCollum, "Minsky's" will feature scenic design by Anna Louizos, costume design by Gregg Barnes, lighting design by Ken Billington, sound design by Acme Sound Partners and hair design by Josh Marquette.

The musical direction and vocal arrangements are by Phil Reno, orchestrations are by Doug Besterman and arrangements are by Glen Kelly. Casting is by Telsey + Company, the Technical Supervisor is Peter Fulbright and the production stage manager is Karen Moore.

Minsky's is based on the Bud Yorkin-Norman Lear production of "The Night They Raided Minsky's," for more information visit

Charles Strouse has touched The Life of almost every American in the last half century with his musical works. There may be no other living composer from America's popular songbook whose work is as integrated into the popular culture as that of Charles Strouse.His music has attracted top recording artists from the last half-century with covers of his songs recorded by such diverse pop artists as Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Harry Connick, Jr., Bobby Rydell, Jay Z, Vic Damone, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Grace Jones and Duke Ellington and his Orchestra.Strouse has written the score to over 30 stage musicals, 14 scores for Broadway, four Hollywood films, two orchestral works and an opera.He has been inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Theatre Hall of Fame.

He is a three-time Tony Award winner, a two-time Emmy Award winner, and his cast recordings have earned him two Grammy Awards.His song "Those Were The Days" launched over 200 episodes of the "All in the Family" and continues to reach new generations of television audiences in syndication.With hundreds of productions licensed annually, his musicals Annie and Bye Bye Birdie are among the most popular musicals of all time produced by regional, amateur and school groups all over the world. Strouse's memoir, Put on a Happy Face - A Broadway Memoir, is published by Sterling Publishing and will be available in stores everywhere July 1, 2008.

Casey Nicholaw (Director) received 2006 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations for his work on 'The Drowsy Chaperone' and 2005 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Choreography for 'Monty Python's Spamalot.' Additional New York credits include direction and choreography for 'Follies' (Encores!); choreography for 'Bye, Bye, Birdie' (Encores!); 'Candide' (NY Philharmonic, 'PBS Great Performances'); 'South Pacific' (Carnegie Hall, 'PBS Great Performances'); musical staging for 'Can-Can' (Encores!); 'Sinatra: His Voice. His World. His Way' (Radio City Music Hall). Other choreography: 'Lucky Duck' (Old Globe), 'The Road to Hollywood' (Goodspeed).

Tickets for the Ahmanson Theatre's 42nd season are currently available by subscription only. For information and to charge subscriptions by phone, call the new Exclusive Season Ticket Hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase subscriptions on-line, visit