Allan Knee Continues CHRISTMAS CAROL Character's Story in THE ASTONISHING TIMES OF TIMOTHY CRATCHIT at The Workshop, 12/3-19
Knee is author of "The Man who was Peter Pan," which was initially produced by The Workshop Theater and became the basis for the Academy Award nominated film "Finding Neverland" and the Broadway musical of the same name. Knee offers a coming-of-age story for the boy in his newest musical, THE ASTONISHING TIMES OF TIMOTHY CRATCHIT, which he has written with composer/lyricist Andre Catrini. The piece was developed over the last three years by The Workshop Theater, 312 West 36th Street, and will premiere there December 3 to 19, directed by Thomas Cote, Artistic Director.The piece began about three years ago as a standard drama, inspired not only by Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (1843) but also by "Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi" (1838), in which Dickens, then 25, rewrote the autobiography of England's greatest clown and pantomime. The Workshop Theater held a three-day reading of the play, after which it was decided to add songs. Composer Andre Catrini was ultimately brought aboard when it was decided to evolve the play as a full musical, prompted largely by the musical potential of scenes depicting Grimaldi. The piece is like a 19th century social novel endowed with magic. Timothy Cratchet, after the death of his father, Bob, comes under the protection of Scrooge, who has become kindly and avuncular as a result of the events of "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge pays for an operation that fixes the boy's limp but leaves him with a "dancing leg." His goodly parents have taught him to read. But rather than hang around Scrooge's business, where he could earn a living as an office foreman, Timothy gets the wanderlust. He moves to hardscrabble East London, where he takes up lodgings in a boarding house that is home to down-and-outers. There he meets a chambermaid named Lucy, who will ultimately become his first love. However, he is unable to find work in the bleakness of the London slums. Through a lucky connection, he meets Grimaldi, the harlequinade English actor, comedian and dancer who was the country's most popular entertainer in the Regency period. Grimaldi promises to make Timothy his protégé if he can achieve the nearly-impossible: he must reunite the famous clown with his estranged son, Guido, who has deserted the family act to become an animal trainer. Timothy succeeds in bringing Guido home, but only temporarily. Guido abandons his father a second time (every boy must find his own way in the world!) and Timothy must assume the son's role in their famous family show, with unpredictable and epic results! Allan Knee is known for coming-of-age stories and 19th century tales. His first commercial success was the Broadway musical adaptation of "Little Women." "Finding Neverland," based on his play "The Man who was Peter Pan," has the Darling family's four little boys and J.M. Barrie all coming of age. He says, "I like writing about rites of passage and young people deciding what they are going to do, coming into full maturity." The characters in this piece reveal themselves in both their texts and musical styles. There are 23 musical numbers, whose style is described by composer Andre Catrini as "Kander and Ebb meet Ahrens and Flaherty." Scrooge's music is -- true to his character -- rigid and practical, unwavering in how he sees the world. Grimaldi's music is explosive and dynamic; his Act 1 finale is a circus parade. There are no big dance numbers (these will have to wait for the Broadway move), but there is lot of tricky musical staging. There will be a three-piece orchestra with musical director Nathaniel Beliveau performing on keyboard plus two other musicians on cello and woodwinds. Magic consultant is Peter Samelson. The cast features Nathan Gardner as Timothy, D.C. Anderson as Grimaldi, Robert Stattel as Scrooge, Andy Ingalls as Guido and Hanley Smith as Lucy, Timothy's love interest. The acting ensemble also includes John Martello, Robert Meksin, Jeff Paul, Kendall Rileigh, Virginia Roncetti and Joanie Schumacher.Allan Knee is author of the play "The Man who was Peter Pan," which was first produced by The Workshop Theater and was the basis for the Academy Award nominated film "Finding Neverland" and the current Broadway musical of the same name. He also wrote the book for the Broadway musical "Little Women" (starring Sutton Foster and Maureen McGovern). Other works include "Syncopation," which won an American Theater Critic's Award, and "The Jazz Age," which has been optioned for a West End production and was first presented by The Workshop Theater, directed by Workshop Artistic Director, Thomas Coté. For TV he wrote the four-part adaptation of "The Scarlet Letter" for PBS. His films include "Esther's Diary" and "Film Noir." He is a graduate of the Yale Drama School. Andre Catrini is a composer/lyricist, musical director and repertoire coach currently living on the Upper West Side. He received the 2014 ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award and a 2015 New Voices Project Merit Award. Recently, he was commissioned to compose a new ballet/dance theater piece, "The Wolf," for Theatre Raleigh (NC). He is the founder of The Circle Songbook, a writing group for new musical theater composers, lyricists and librettists. He is a graduate of the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, a member of ASCAP, the Dramatists Guild and the BMI-Lehman Engel Advanced Musical Theater Workshop and an alumnus of the ASCAP Johnny Mercer Songwriter's Project. Other musical theater writing credits include "Other Women," "Timmy the Wizard" and "Whisper, Love." He makes regular concert and cabaret appearances in New York. (www.andrecatrini.com) Thomas Coté is a Manhattan-based director and the current Artistic Director of The Workshop Theater. He is a longtime collaborator of Allan Knee, having previously directed the world premiere of "The Jazz Age" and several productions of "The Last Seder." Other New York credits include the Off-Broadway production of "The Devil and Billy Markham" by Shel Silverstein, "Interchange" by Ken Jaworowski (a New York Times Critics' Pick) and Audelco Award-winning "The Guest at Central Park West" by Levy Lee Simon. Regionally, his directing credits include "The Woman In Black" for Millbrook Theater and "National Pastime" by Tony Sportiello for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Scenic Design is by Craig Napoliello. Lighting design is by Diane Duecker. Costume design is by Kimberley Windbiel.
IF YOU GO:
December 3 to 19, 2015
The Workshop Theater, 312 West 36th Street, 4 fl. East
Presented by The Workshop Theater (Thomas Coté, Artistic Director; Joseph Giardina, Managing Director)
Thurs at 7:00 PM, Fri and Sat at 8:00 PM, matinees Sat at 2:00 PM and Sun at 3:00 PM.
$18 general admission, $15 students and seniors
Box office www.workshoptheater.org or 866.811.4111 (Ovation Tickets)
Runs 2:15 plus intermission. Critics are invited on or after Dec 3.
Pictured: Timothy Cratchit (played by Nathan Gardner) begs to become a protégé of Grimaldi, England's most popular entertainer of the Regency period (played by D.C. Anderson). Photo by Gerry Goodstein.