Exclusive: Composer Walter Marks Steps in for an Ill Max Von Essen in York Theatre's GOLDEN RAINBOW

Director Stuart Ross restaged the entire show to accommodate the 89-year-old leading man.  

By: Sep. 25, 2023

The old adage “The show must go on!” was played out in “golden” fashion yesterday when due to illness, Broadway’s Max Von Essen was unable to perform the lead role of Larry Davis in the York Theatre Company’s “Musicals in Mufti” presentation of “GOLDEN RAINBOW.”  The matinee was canceled and the evening performance was in jeopardy of the same fate. That is, until Walter Marks, the composer of the music and lyrics of the show offered to go on in Max’s place. The afternoon was spent putting Mr. Marks into the show with director Stuart Ross restaging the entire show to accommodate the 89-year old leading man.  

At 7pm, York Theatre’s Artistic Director James Morgan addressed the full house sharing the news that they were about to witness a very special performance.  He then introduced Mr. Ross who brought Mr. Marks to the stage to great applause.  Just as the lights went out, Mr. Marks said, “Well, all I can say is ‘here goes nothin’!” 

BroadwayWorld’s own Richard Ridge along with Mark William, who both call “GOLDEN RAINBOW” their favorite show were on hand to witness this special  - and historic -  evening.  Following the show they greeted and congratulated Mr. Marks in the green room who happily signed their show memorabilia.  His co-star Benjamin Pajak who portrays his son Ally, was also on hand.

Check out photos from the performance below!

Golden Rainbow, with book by Ernest Kinoy and music and lyrics by Walter Marks, is the third offering of the Fall 2023 “Musicals in Mufti” series. Performances began Saturday afternoon, September 23, 2023 and will continue for 11 performances only through Sunday, October 1, 2023.

All performances will take place at The Theater at St. Jean’s (entrance on 150 East 76th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue. For elevator, enter on Lexington between 76th and 75th, to the right of St. Jean’s.)

The cast features Felipe Barbosa Bombonato (Les Misérables), Jonathan Brody (The Sorceress), Nick Cearley (The Skivvies), Robert Cuccioli (York’s Rothschild & Sons ), Mara Davi (Dames at Sea), Max Von Essen (York’s Tenderloin), Danielle Lee Greaves (Parade), Jillian Louis (York’s The Game of Love), Gina Milo (York’s Subways Are for Sleeping), Benjamin Pajak (The Music Man), and Maria Wirries (York’s Penelope: or How The Odyssey Was Really Written).

Golden Rainbow is directed by Stuart Ross (York’s Enter Laughing), with music direction by David Hancock Turner (York’s Cheek to Cheek and Desperate Measures). The production team includes Lighting Designer Garett Pembrook, Projections/Sound Designer Peter Brucker, Production Manager Aaron Simms, Production Coordinator Noah Glaister, Production Stage Manager Hailey Delaney, Assistant Stage Manager Carson Ferguson, and Company Manager Tori Calderon-Caswell. Casting is by Michael Cassara, CSA. 

“The Muftis are full steam ahead with the third installment in our series, Golden Rainbow,” said Jim Morgan, Producing Artistic Director. “We could not be more excited to present this musical gem with an all-star cast and creative team, led by longtime friend of the company Stuart Ross. I can’t think of a more perfect Mufti for our audiences. Don’t miss it!” 

Golden Rainbow (based on Arnold Schulman’s play A Hole in the Head) is the jazzy, heartfelt story of a single dad trying to achieve success in Las Vegas while raising his extremely bright and savvy son. His late wife's sister arrives and tries to bring stability to the boy's life, but unintentionally falls in love with her brother-in-law. The musical originally opened on Broadway on February 4, 1968 and ran nearly a year. It starred the married couple of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, major stars from their extensive work in the recording, television, and concert industries. The musical introduced the enduring standard "I've Gotta Be Me," recorded by Sammy Davis, Tony Bennett, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Klea Blackhurst, and many others. Performances are set to begin Saturday afternoon, September 23 2023, and continue for 11 performances only through September 17, 2023. Opening Night will be Wednesday evening, September 27, 2023, at 7:00 p.m.

The York Theatre Company’s acclaimed Musicals in Mufti series of musical theatre gems, performed in a simply-staged, book-in-hand concert format, is in its twenty-ninth historic year of presenting shows from the past that deserve a second look. The series was awarded an Obie Grant in 2016. Mufti means “in street clothes, without the trappings of a full production.” 

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