The American Repertory Theater is pleased to announce the cast for Johnny Baseball, a world premiere musical about the Red Sox, with music by Robert Reale, lyrics by Willie Reale, book by Richard Dresser, story by Richard Dresser and Willie Reale, with musical direction and vocal arrangements by Wendy Bobbitt Cavett; musical arrangements by Bruce Coughlin. Scenic design is by Scott Pask, lighting design by Donald Holder, costume design by Michael McDonald, and sound design by ACME Soundpartners. The production is directed by A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus, with choreography by Peter Pucci. Johnny Baseball runs at the Loeb Drama Center from May 14 through June 27, 2010.
After the Red Sox’s stunning collapse in the 2003 playoffs, a baseball-obsessed team of musical theater writers (one long-suffering Sox fan and two oddly sympathetic Yankees fans) began searching for the source of Red Sox’s infamous Curse. In Johnny Baseball, writer Richard Dresser, composer Robert Reale, and lyricist Willie Reale have embarked on a journey that has yielded an exhilarating blend of fact and fiction and a new musical that chronicles the stranglehold of the infamous curse and its ultimate, divine release.
Johnny Baseball traces the origin of the Curse to a collision of three orphaned souls: Johnny O’Brien, a hard-luck right-hander on the 1919 Sox; his idol, Babe Ruth; and Daisy Wyatt, a dazzling African American blues singer and the love of Johnny’s life. The entanglements of love, friendship, and betrayal in these lives contain both the reason for the Curse and the secret to its end off the bat of Big Papi in 2004. The musical is a thoughtful investigation of the issue of race in major league baseball as a mirror of American societal attitudes through the twentieth century. With lively music and an engaging love story, Johnny Baseball celebrates the 2004 World Series victory under the new ownership in the context of the integration of the game. It packs an incisive commentary on American social history into a funny, heartfelt, and spirited musical that will bring cheers and tears to baseball fans everywhere.
The Company includes Colin Donnell as Johnny O’Brien, Stephanie Umoh as Daisy Wyatt, Burke Moses as Babe Ruth, Charl Brown as Tim, Jeff Brooks as Tom Yawkey, Charles Turner as a fan, as well as Joe Cassidy, Paula Leggett Chase, Kaitlin Davidson, Alan H. Green, Carly Jibson, Robert McClure, and Kirsten Wyatt. The musicians are Tim Ray, piano; Mark Pinto, piccolo, flute, clarinet, alto saxophone; Robert Bowlby, flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone; Rod Ferland, clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone; Jay Daly, trumpet. flugelhorn; Robert Couture, trombone, euphonium; Joseph Higgins, bass; Michael Ambroszewski, percussion.
About the Principal Cast Members:
Colin Donnell (Johnny O’Brien) was seen on Broadway in Jersey Boys, and in the national tours of Wicked and Mamma Mia. He was also seen in New York in Follies at City Center, Meet Me in St. Louis at the Irish Repertory Theatre, and Almost Heaven in the Promenade Theatre; as well as in numerous regional musical productions.
Stephanie Umoh (Daisy Wyatt) is best known for her role as Sarah in the 2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime, a role she previously performed at the New Repertory Theater, earning her an Elliot Norton Award nomination. A graduate of Boston Conservatory, she appeared with several local theater companies, in the Connecticut Repertory Company’s production of Hair, and in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s workshop production of The Tin Pan Alley Rag.
Burke Moses (Babe Ruth and others) originated the role of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, as well as in the Los Angeles, and London’s West End productions; played the roles of Sky Masterson in the 1992 Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls and Fred Graham/Petruchio in the 1999 revival of Kiss Me Kate. Other credits also include the New York City Opera production of The Most Happy Fella.
Jeff Brooks (Tom Yawkey and others) was seen on Broadway in Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, Nick & Nora, Gypsy, Lend Me a Tenor, and A History of the American Film; off Broadway roles include Talk Radio, Titanic, Sister Mary Ignatius, and The Foreigner. He appeared in numerous films, including Julie and Julia, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and IQ, and on television including ER, Law and Order, and Friends.
Charl Brown (Tim) appeared off Broadway in Walmartopia, and regionally in Dreamgirls (Curtis) at San Diego Musical Theater, as well as in The Wiz (Scarecrow/Ensemble) at La Jolla Playhouse, Showboat at the Hollywood Bowl, as well as in Angels in America (Belize), Hair (Hud), Sweet Charity (Daddy), Ragtime (Coalhouse Walker), Six Degrees of Separation (Paul), Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas), A Chorus Line (Richie), and Gypsy. He also appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Charles Turner (Fan) Broadway credits include The Orphans Cycle and Dividing the Estate (also at Hartford Stage), On Golden Pond, The Little Foxes, Caesar and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night. Off-Broadway he was seen in the Play About the Baby, They Cherry Orchard, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, among others. Regional credits include Fences and Dream on Monkey Mountain at Hartford Stage, The Oedipus Plays at Arena Stage, Hamlet at Long Wharf, King Lear at Yale; he played Frederick Douglass at the Edinburgh Festival, and Scott Joplin at the Avignon Festival. He is a veteran of many theatre productions, films, and television.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM:
Richard Dresser (Book) His plays have been produced off-Broadway, at leading regional theaters, and throughout Europe. They include Rounding Third, Below the Belt, Gun-Shy, The Downside, Alone at the Beach, Something in the Air, and a trilogy of plays about happiness in America: Augusta, The Pursuit of Happiness, and A View of the Harbor. Mr. Dresser’s most recent play, The Last Days of Mickey & Jean, premiered in March at Merrimack Repertory Theater.
Robert Reale (Composer) Theater credits include The Dinosaur Musical, A Year With Frog and Toad (Tony nomination, best score); Rounding Third, Once Around The City, Diva, Quark Victory. Films: The Rebound, The Victim, Ten-13, Wigstock, Dealers Among Dealers. Television: In the last few months, he has written the television main themes for Life Coach with Cheri Oteri (AMC), and Life (CNBC). Other television: Haskett’s Chance; Good Morning America, ABC; PrimeTime, ABC; What Would You Do? ABC (main title theme); 20/20, ABC; Inside Edition; Focus Earth; Court TV (The System, Crime Stories, MugShots); Out There; Invent This!, A Current Affair (Fox); Case Closed with Stacey Keach (USA Network); Beating The Rap; After the Verdict; The Mailman and the Piranha (short musical, Nickelodeon).
Willie Reale (Lyricist) Writing credits with his composer/brother, Robert Reale, include A Year With Frog and Toad, Childrens’ Theater Company in Minneapolis, New Victory Theatre, and Cort Theater on Broadway (two Tony nominations for his book and lyrics); the musicals Once Around The City, Second Stage Theatre in New York; Quark Victory, Williamstown Theatre Festival; and The Dinosaur Musical, The Arden in Philadelphia. Other plays have been produced at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, and Circle Repertory Company. In 1981, he founded The 52nd Street Project, an organization that brings inner-city children together with professional theater artists to create theater. He served as the theater’s artistic director for 18 years. With the Project, he produced hundreds of plays. The programs of The 52nd Street Project are currently being replicated at 12 sites across the country through a series of publications entitled The Kid Theater Kit. For the kit he wrote “52 Pick Up,” the Project how-to manual, as well as numerous plays, and the lyrics to hundreds of songs. In 1994, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his ingenuity in creating theater and theater education programs for young people. Television credits include Damages, Homicide: Life on the Streets, Deadline, Mr. Sterling, Keen Eddie, The Jury and Tilt, on ESPN. He created a series called Out There for Sesame Workshop and the BBC shot in Australia (Australian Film Institute Award, Prix Jeunesse and Writers’ Guild of America nominations). Film work: Dreamgirls (lyrics to the song Patience, Oscar nomination). Willie was the head writer and Co-Executive producer on the team that reinvented The Electric Company, now airing on PBS.
Diane Paulus (Director) is the Artistic Director of the A.R.T., where this season she directed The Donkey Show (which ran for six years Off-Broadway, toured internationally to London, Edinburgh, Madrid, and Evian, France, and still running at OBERON) and Best of Both Worlds (a gospel/R&B adaptation of A Winter’s Tale originally produced by Music-Theatre Group and The Women’s Project). Other theater work includes the Tony Award-winning revival of HAIR on Broadway and London; Kiss Me Kate at Glimmerglass Opera; Lost Highway, based on the David Lynch film, an ENO co-production with the Young Vic in London; Another Country by James Baldwin at Riverside Church; Turandot: Rumble for the Ring at the Bay Street Theatre; The Golden Mickey’s for Disney Creative Entertainment; and The Karaoke Show, an adaptation of Comedy of Errors set in a karaoke bar, produced by Jordan Roth Productions. Also for Music-Theatre Group she directed the Obie award-winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist Running Man by jazz composer Diedre Murray and poet Cornelius Eady, and Swimming with Watermelons, created in association with Project 400, the theater company she co-founded with her husband Randy Weiner. Other work Off-Broadway includes Brutal Imagination, and the Obie-award winning Eli’s Coming, featuring the music and lyrics of Laura Nyro. Opera credits include Haydn’s Il mondo della luna at the Hayden Planetarium in New York this season; Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Turn Of The Screw, Cosi fan tutte; and the Monteverdi Cycle Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Orfeo at the Chicago Opera Theater. She is a frequent collaborator with British conductor Jane Glover; their critically acclaimed production of Orfeo was presented as part of The Monteverdi Cycle at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City. Upcoming work at the A.R.T. includes Death and The Powers, a new opera by Tod Machover in collaboration with MIT Media Lab and Chicago Opera Theatre, and in association with Opera Boston.
Peter Pucci (Choreographer) Off Broadway credits include The Orphans Home Cycle, Queens Boulevard (Drama Desk Award nomination, Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreographer), Paradise Park, People Be Heard, After Ashley, The Late Henry Moss, True Love, Eyes for Consuela. Regionally he choreographed for Carnival! at Paper Mill Playhouse; Safe in Hell, The Cherry Orchard, Miss Julie, and The Black Monk for Yale Repertory Theatre; The Late Henry Moss for The Magic Theatre; Romeo and Juliet at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival; A Marriage Minuet for Westport Playhouse; Fall at Baltimore Center Stage and Berkeley Repertory Theatre; Ion, Beaux’s Stratagem, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Twelfth Night at The Shakespeare Theatre; Hamlet, Fool for Love, The Cherry Orchard, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Learned Ladies at the McCarter Theatre; The Orphans Home Cycle, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Summer and Smoke, Eight by Tenn, Macbeth, Camino Real for Hartford Stage; and Romeo and Juliet at TheatreWorks USA; National Tour: The Civil War. Other credits include: Samson and Delilah at Baltimore Opera, Renard for Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Dance Commissions: Pucci Plus Dancers, Ballet Hispanico, Joffrey Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Pittsburgh Ballet, Pilobolus Dance Theatre, Big Apple Circus 2010 Production. He is Artist in Residence at Manhattanville College.
Wendy Bobbitt Cavett (Musical Director/Vocal Arrangements) Broadway credits include Mamma Mia!, A Tale of Two Cities (additional arrangements), The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Most Happy Fella. National tours: Mamma Mia! Las Vegas, The Who’s Tommy, A Chorus Line. Ms. Cavett conducted the premier productions of Rob and Willie Reale’s A Year With Frog and Toad. She is also collaborating with Rob and Willie on another new show, The Last Snowman.
Bruce Coughlin (Musical Arrangements) received a Tony Award for his orchestration for Light in the Piazza; other orchestration credits include 9 to 5, Grey Gardens, Urinetown, The Wild Party, Triumph of Love, and Lestat, and the revivals of Once Upon a Mattress, Guys and Dolls, Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun, On the Town, and The Sound of Music.
Scott Pask (Scenic Design) designed The Donkey Show and OBERON for the A.R.T. His credits include the acclaimed productions of HAIR and Take Me Out for The Public Theater, Broadway, and London; other Broadway credits include The Pillowman (Tony Award), A Steady Rain, A Behanding in Spokane, 9 to 5, Impressionism, Speed the Plow, Pal Joey, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Tony Nomination, Drama Desk Award), November, The Coast of Utopia (Tony, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk Awards), The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Nine, Sweet Charity, La Cage aux Folles, Little Shop of Horrors, and Urinetown. Other credits include Bash at the Almeida Theatre/London, New York, Los Angeles, and on Showtime; Love Song, On An Average Day at the West End/London; Tales from Hollywood at the Donmar Warehouse/London; Albert Herring for Opera North/UK; and Peter Grimes for the Metropolitan Opera last season. This is his sixth collaboration with Diane Paulus.
Michael McDonald (Costume Design) designed costumes for HAIR for The Public Theater, Broadway, and London. Off-Broadway credits include Tartuffe at Tribeca Playhouse, Amahl and the Night Visitors at Lincoln Center, and Measure for Measure at Expanded Arts. He also designed Take Me Out for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Amadeus, Sweeney Todd, The Laramie Project, and Angels in America for Chatham Playhouse, and was Assistant Designer for The Goat, Take Me Out, and The Ride Down Mt. Morgan on Broadway.
Donald Holder (Lighting Design) Broadway projects include Movin’ Out (Tony, Drama Desk nominations), The Lion King (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards), After the Fall, All Shook Up, La Cage aux Folles, A Streetcar Named Desire, Gem of The Ocean, Thoroughly Modern Millie, King Hedley II, Little Shop of Horrors, The Boy From Oz, The Green Bird, Bells Are Ringing, The Violet Hour, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Juan Darien (Tony, Drama Desk nominations), Hughie.