James A. Rocco To Direct A New YANKEE DOODLE DANDY
Musical Theatre West will present a new and revised production of Yankee Doodle Dandy, directed and choreographed by James A. Rocco.
The George M. Cohan, David Armstrong and Albert Evans musical tried out at Gateway Playhouse in 2000, subsequently premiering at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, followed by productions in Dallas, Atlanta, St. Paul and Houston. A new production, with substantial revisions, will premiere at Musical Theatre West this summer.
Yankee Doodle Dandy is not the James Cagney movie. It tells the gritty, true story of a rebel who bucked the system and invented musical theatre. Rocco says, "Born into Vaudeville, Cohan wrote songs that would become anthems for the new America of Manhattan's lower east side. His musicals-although seemingly simple-were groundbreaking in their use of story, song, and dance. They were loved precisely because they expressed the enthusiastic dreams of thousands of immigrants, who had newly arrived on our shores. His shows not only gave birth to the American musical, they affected every musical written since then. And that's what our show is about"
James A. Rocco is the co-founder of Thirty Saints Productions, Inc., which has written, directed, and produced The Broadway Songbook, and with Broadway Asia, toured Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, to Tokyo. Thirty Saints was part of the creative team behind the US Air Force's 9/11 Tribute Video, There Are No Words, seen by over 2 million viewers on 9/11/2017. Thirty Saints is a producing partner in the Broadway, National Tour, and Toronto Tour of Come From Away, and producing partner of The Voice, Live at The Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.
From 2005-2017, James A. Rocco was the VP of Programming and Producing Artistic Director at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. At the Ordway, Mr. Rocco presented and booked the best of touring Broadway with productions like August, Osage County, An American In Paris, Kinky Boots, LES MISERABLES and more. He produced and/or co-produced award-winning theatricals like In The Heights, Love, Janis, Cabaret, West Side Story, White Christmas, Joseph, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Grey Gardens, As the Ordway representative for the Independent Producer's Network, he was a participating investor in Fun Home, Something's Rotten, Legally Blonde, The Color Purple, Monty Python's Spamalot and others, as well as serving on the IPN's Governance Committee.
James was a member of The Broadway League and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, where he served on the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's New Works committee and he commissioned the holiday musical A Country Christmas Carol. He was part of the creative team of the off-Broadway cult hits Nite Club Confidentialand Streakin'!, a musical flashback to the 1970s. His re-versioned stage production of Singin' in the Rain has been seen around the world.
He was the Executive Producer and Co-Director of the Regional Emmy Nominated Documentary, The World We Create and directed the television and video musical, Born of A Dream. For Mitsubishi/ArtSphere, he created the stage and television spectacular, Galaxy Express 999.
Rocco's theatrical career started at three years-old, as the youngest member of the (Art) Linkletter Totten Tots! He appeared in Oliver! with Ray Walston and Jules Munschin; Carousel as Enoch Snow Jr, with John Raitt; and as Sheppard in Sidney Lumet & David Merrick's thriller, Child's Play. He produced his first show in New York at 16 (Henry, Sweet Henry, at the Mercer Arts Center and the Lamb Theatre). As a performer, he appeared in the original Broadway production of Cats (as the Rum Tum Tugger), the International and TV Ashai Productions of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies; sang back up for Frank Sinatra and was lead singer for Herbie Hancock and the Super Sounds. In the 1990s, he co-directed and choreographed The Wizard of Oz on Broadway (with Roseanne, Eartha Kitt, Mickey Rooney). His freelance work as a director/choreographer includes critically acclaimed productions of 33 Variations, Grey Gardens, Sweeney Todd, As Bees in Honey Drown, A Little Night Music, Guys & Dolls, On the Town, and many world premieres. From 1995-97, he was the Producing Artistic Director of the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma where he initiated and assisted in a three-year re-organization plan for Lyric's financial recovery and planned the company's move to larger and more prominent facility. While at Lyric he produced and Directed, Broadway Sings for the Heartland, the first benefit to support victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. Broadway Sings starred Ed Harris, Sandy Duncan, Ben Vereen and 100 theatre stars from around the country.