The road to Broadway is long and hard, and evidence of that is close at hand in the form of an original musical that debuted on a local stage in 2009. Writer, composer and Covington, La., resident Glyn Bailey has for years lived and breathed the musical, which is based on the life of author D.H. Lawrence.
After premiering the work, initially entitled “Scandalous,” on the stage of Jefferson Performing Arts Society, Bailey made round after round of revisions, working with his collaborators, Keith Thomas and Theasa Tuohy. Last October they took the work, since renamed “Lawrence,” to England where it played in London’s West End with the central role performed by Broadway star Bart Shatto, who also appeared in the production’s local debut.
Bailey says as a result of the show’s successful London run, Tony Award-winning producer Mick Leavitt has signed on with the project. The current plan is to include “Lawrence” in a portfolio of three other Broadway-bound musicals. “It’s a unique concept in theatre production that will provide several attractive benefits to the shows’ investors,” he says.
Before attempting a leap to the Great White Way, the production will undergo several more workshops in London, says Bailey, who terms the play’s evolution “very exciting.”
Harold Clark Leslie Castay
Live a cabaret life
In a city as much in love with song and dance as New Orleans is, it’s inevitable that cabaret performances will pop up somewhere. So it is that cabaret returns this month to Mid-City Theatre, which hosted its first round of such performances a year ago. “This year is going to top 2013,” promises theater manager Su Gonczy.
The lineup features local chanteuse and Broadway veteran Leslie Castay singing songs she came to love on the winding road from her childhood in LaPlace, La., to a singing career in New York, including tunes from “42nd Street, “Guys and Dolls,” “Wicked” and many others. Castay will grace Mid-City’s stage on March 7 and 8.
Later in the month (March 20), don’t miss cabaret with a French accent starring Bremner Duthie singing songs of Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet, among others.
Dane Rhodes is up next (March 26), offering a cabaret evening in celebration of his 50th birthday, followed by Helen Gillet and her orchestra (March 27) bringing an evening of French songs with a Belgian flair.
Lawrence and Frieda sing “In Each Other’s Arms”
Local playwright makes good
Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, Tenn., recently named New Orleans playwright Harold Ellis Clark one of two winners in its New Works competition. Clark’s play, “We Live Here,” emerged from a field of six finalists and will have its world premiere in January 2015 as part of the theater company’s 2014-’15 season.
The play, about a black couple from the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans who win a new home that’s located in an all-white neighborhood, received a staged reading at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré in December, and it was the featured theatrical production of the 2013 Words & Music Conference hosted by the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society.
Clark’s plays have also been produced at the Anthony Bean Community Theater and Dillard University in New Orleans. His screenplay, “Chummy’s Spirit,” based on his self-published novel of the same title, was named an official selection for the 2013 International Family Film Festival in Hollywood, Calif.
Theater gets boost at UNO
The New Orleans Theatre Association has pledged a $60,000 donation to help establish an endowed professorship in the Department of Film and Theatre at the University of New Orleans, marking the largest single grant in the association’s nearly 30-year history.
David Hoover, professor and chair of the Department of Film and Theatre, said the university will pursue a $40,000 match from the Louisiana Board of Regents, and the chair will be filled on an annual basis by an artist-in-residence.
“This tremendous gift not only speaks to the quality of our program but to the generosity of a great organization,” Hoover said.
Michael Mitchell, president of the association, said the gift acknowledges UNO’s “crucial role in the local theater landscape.”
The New Orleans Theatre Association was founded in 1984 and is the leading presenter of touring theatrical productions and other performing arts presentations in Louisiana.
Who’s on stage?
Dozens of dramatic, comedic and musical offerings are slated on stages in and around New Orleans in the coming months. Find details in the following pages, check the website of each performance organization for updates and be there when the curtain rises.