Musical Theatre West Presents LEGS DIAMOND Reading Tonight

Never seen since its original New York run, LEGS DIAMOND kicks off the third season of MUSICAL Theatre West'S REINER READING SERIES tonight, December 2, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

MUSICAL Theatre West'S REINER READING SERIES is proud to announce the revisiting of another notorious flop from 1988, Peter Allen's LEGS DIAMOND. LEGS DIAMOND turns the life of notorious mob gunman, Jack Diamond into an almost totally fictitious musical extravaganza. With a book by Harvey Fierstein (HAIRSPRAY, Disney's NEWSIES) and Charles Suppon based on the Warner Brothers film "The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond" (screenplay by Joseph Landon) and a charming, energetic score by the late Peter Allen, Diamond becomes a song-and-dance man working his way up the ladder to get his name in lights. LEGS DIAMOND has not been seen on stage since its original incarnation.

The almost totally fictitious musical history of Legs Diamond, a depression-era mobster who wants to break into show business, has practically nothing to do with the real Jack Diamond, who was a ruthless mob gunman, not an entertainer. He worked his way up to operating several speakeasies, including New York's legendary Hotsy Totsy Club. Legs developed a reputation for survival by escaping several attempts on his life. His luck ran out in 1931 when the Dutch Schultz gang gunned him down in Albany.

After 72 previews (far more than the 16-24 most shows go through with the recent exception being SPIDER-MAN, Turn Off The Dark), the production opened on December 26, 1988 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, New York where it ran for only 64 performances (approximately 2 months). The opening night cast included Peter Allen (Jack Diamond), Julie Wilson (Flo), Randall Edwards (Kiki Roberts), Brenda Braxton (Madge), Joe Silber (Arnold Rothstein), Jim Fyfe (Moran), Christian Kauffmann (Bones), Pat McNamara (Devane), and Raymond Serra (Augie).

The reviews were unanimously bad, with particular disbelief at Peter Allen's attempts to play so totally against type as a suave lothario (Frank Rich commented that the evening's most compelling drama was watching Allen figure out "what to do with his hands".) The failure of the musical was so total that it compelled the Nederlander Organization to finally sell the beloved put flop-prone Mark Hellinger Theatre to the Times Square Church, which still owns it.

LEGS DIAMOND will be directed by Larry Raben (MTW's THE WEDDING SINGER, HAIRSPRAY), choreographed by Lee Martino (MTW's HAIRSPRAY, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS; Regional: LIFE COULD BE A DREAM) and will feature Tracy Lore (MTW's 42ND STREET, HAIRSPRAY) and David Engel (MTW's HAIRSPRAY, THE PRODUCERS, THE ANDREWS BROTHERS, LA CAGE A FOLLES), in the title role. LEGS DIAMOND also features, Gwen Stewart (Broadway: RENT, BIG RIVER (Original "Season's of Love" Soloist); and Melissa Fahn (Broadway: WICKED, MTW's ANYTHING GOES) as Kiki Roberts.

MTW's Reiner Reading Series, produced by Michael Betts and David Lamoureux, focuses on staged readings of classic musicals and forgotten gems and maintains MTW's commitment to celebrate and preserve musical theater as an art form by exposing audiences to works of that might not otherwise be produced on a larger scale. Through the minimalism of the staged reading format, we invite the audience to use their imagination to explore and enjoy the diverse range of musical theatre, both in style and era, including lesser-known shows by noted composers as well as noted shows by lesser-known composers.

Never seen since its original New York run, Musical Theatre West presents LEGS DIAMOND in a staged reading format for one night only tonight, December 2, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at the University Theater on the CSU Long Beach campus at the 7th Street entrance. This special event is generously underwritten by long-time Long Beach residents and Musical Theatre West donors Ken and Dottie Reiner with additional funding from Ackerman Family/Evalyn M. Bauer Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Pre purchased general admission tickets start at $25.00 ($30 day of at the door) and are available now through the MTW box office at 562-856-1999, x4 or at

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