When Reefer Madness opens at the Variety Arts Theatre in the fall, Christian Campbell and Robert Torti will be recreating the roles they had in the L.A. production of the musical. Joining them will be Michele Pawk (late of Seussical) and Gregg Edelman (late of Thief River). With music by Dan Studney, lyrics by Kevin Murphy, and a book by Murphy and Studney, Reefer Madness is a musical takeoff on the 1936 film of the same title that was intended to scare people away from marijuana usage but has since become a camp cult classic. The musical is directed by Andy Fickman and features choreography by Paula Abdul. Campbell is best known for the gay-themed film trick; his role in Reefer Madness is that of a clean-cut youngster who falls in with a crowd of "reefer fiends" and finds himself drawn into a world of teenage depravity.
Lauren Kennedy (as Florence) and Julia Murney (as Svetlana) have just been announced for the concert production of Chess to be performed at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack, NY on August 10, 11, and 12. As previously noted here, Robert Evan is to play Anatoly. Terrence Mann has recently joined the cast as Molokov. And, perhaps most exciting of all, producer/musical director Neil Berg tells me that Brian d'Arcy James has been confirmed for the role of Freddie, the ugly American who gets to sing the heart-pounding, mind-blowing, excruciatingly difficult rock aria "Pity the Child." Chess will be presented for three performances--August 10, 11, and 12--at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack. Phone 845-358-6333 for ticket information.
Finally, a tidbit that could amount to absolutely nothing...or to really big news. I hear that Kevin Spacey was, in fact, approached for the role of Harold Hill in The Music Man but would not agree to a lengthy contract and was therefore passed over. But I also hear that the show may close in April 2002, and that Spacey could conceivably take on the role for the last few months of the run. Rebecca Luker will apparently stay on as Marian the librarian till the end, aside from some time off for recording projects.