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Tale of Two Cities Musical will have New York Summer Workshop

The musical adaptation of Dickens' A Tales of Two Cities will receive a summer New York workshop before making its world premiere in Chicago in January of 2006.

The big-budget musical epic, which is set in Paris and London during the French Revolution, features book, lyrics and music by Jill Santoriello. The Manhattan workshop will run from July 7th to August 11th. The Chicago production, which is directed and choreographed by David H. Bell and produced by Barbra Russell, Ron Sharpe and Ron Phelps, will premiere at the Chicago Theatre on January 31st. The pop opera is slated for a Broadway run to begin previews on April 11th before opening on April 27th; a theatre has not yet been selected though it has been confirmed that the production will set producers back $14 million.

The production's design team will boast Gregory Gale (costumes) and Jim Joy (sets), with Wendy Cavett behind the music direction, 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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