The production is based on the 1939 novel The Tale of the 1002nd Night by Austrian author Joseph Roth. Set in Vienna during the Austro-Hungarian empire, the story centers on the Shah of Iran who, despite already having 139 wives, falls in love with the empress. The musical has a book by Richard Nelson and lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh, set to the classical music of 'Waltz King' Johann Strauss Jr., adapted by Jonathan Tunick.
Patinkin, who will play the Shah's advise-doling eunuch, has enjoyed an illustrious career on stage and screen, and first rose to prominence as a musical theater actor, winning a Tony Award for his role as Che in Evita on Broadway in 1979. In 1984 he received another Tony nomination for Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George, and in 1989 starred in the first of a number of solo shows, Mandy Patinkin in Concert: Dress Casual. The actor is currently starring in Yale Rep's production of Rinne Groff's Compulsion.
While no other casting has been officially announced, Patinkin is likely to be joined by John Cullum (as the Shah), Shuler Hensley, Kate Baldwin and Judy Kaye, who took part in readings of the show in New York and are currently negotiating contracts.
In related news, the Menier Chocolate Factory will revive Willy Russell's hit 80s comedies Educating Rita and Shirley Valentine in rep next month (March 26-May 8). Meera Syal will star in the monologue Shirley Valentine, which is directed by Glen Walford, who commissioned and directed the original 1986 Liverpool Everyman production. Larry Lamb and Laura Dos Santos will play Frank and Rita in Educating Rita, which will be directed by Jeremy Sams. The two plays follow Hannah Waddingham's previously announced six-night concert run at the Menier.
For more information, visit www.whatsonstage.com.