Indie Group The Nationals Score 'Cyrano' Musical Slated For Goodspeed's Chester Theater

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There's going to be yet another try at making Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano" into a musical.

A new version will receive a "developmental production" (that is, no critics) at Goodspeed Musical's Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. The show will run Aug. 3 to Sept. 2

The public domain material has been previously tapped with mixed results over the years, most notably in a 1973 Broadway production searning Christopher Plummer which earned him his first Tony Award. (I saw it in its Boston try-out and the score was lovely, the lyrics dazzling, and Plummer terrific. The show, directed by Michael Kidd,  also featured Mark Lamos as Cnristian. The show featured a book and deft lyrics -- ah, the nose song!) by Anthony Burgess ("A Clockwork Orange.") I loved it,

There was also another musical version of the play on Broadway in 1993 -- via Holland. It didn't stay long either.

The new version trying out in Chester will feature ew music by members of the Grammy Award-winning indie alternative band The National.  The book will be by Erica Schmidt  Music will be by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, and lyrics by Matt Berninger of The National and Carin Besser.

Aaron Dessner  produced Frightened Rabbit's album Painting Of A Panic Attack on Atlantic Records, Lisa Hannigan's At Swim and worked as an associate producer on Mumford & Sons' 2015 album Wilder Mind

Bryce Dessner is also co-founder of the Brassland label, alongside Alec Hanley Bemis and his twin brother Aaron.. Bryce contributed music to the film The Revenant and is curator for the MusicNOW Festival held annually for over a decade in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. He has collaborated on projects as a performer and composer with  Sufjan Stevens, the Bang on a Can All-StarsPhilip GlassErik Friedlander and Nico Muhly

Matt Berninger is the front man and lyricist for indie alternative bands The National and EL VY. The National’s seventh album Sleep Well Beast has earned a 2018 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album. He is currently developing a television series with Carin Besser and Tom Berninger based on their award-winning film Mistaken for Strangers.

Besser co-produced and edited the film Mistaken for Strangers. As a writer,  Besser has been co-writing lyrics for indie rock band The National since their 2007 album Boxer.

Cyrano will be directed by Princess Grace Award recipient Erica Schmidt whose previous directing credits include Richard II with Robert Sean Leonard at The Old Globe, Turgenev’s A Month In The Country with Peter Dinklage and Taylor Schilling at Classic Stage Company, Dennis Kelly’s Taking Care of Baby at Manhattan Theatre Club and the Obie Award winning Invasion! Ms. Schmidt wrote and directed All The Fine Boys which was presented this past spring at The New Group featuring Abigail Breslinand Isabelle Fuhrman.

This production received a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

But first up at the theater will be You Are Here running May 18 to June 10. 

The new show is described: July 20, 1969... a man walks on the moon... and Diana, a Chicago housewife, walks out of her comfortable suburban life. Suddenly alone in a fast-changing world, she finds a series of unexpected encounters can turn one small step into a giant, life-changing leap."

The show features music and lyrics by Neil Bartram and book by Brian Hill. who created :The Story of My Life" which had a try-out in Chester in 2008 before going to Broadway., They also created "The Theory of Relativity" at the 2014 Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals and further developed at The Terris Theater in 2015. The pair are currently developing musical adaptations of Disney’s famous Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Ray Bradbury’s cult classic Something Wicked This Way Comes for the stage.

You Are Here will be directed by Sarna Lapine who directed the acclaimed 2017 Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George. Ms. Lapine served as Associate Director for the Broadway production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and as Assistant Director for Sondheim on SondheimSouth Pacific and The Light in The Piazza, among others.

The third and final offering of the Chester season running Nov. 30 to Dec. 30 will be A Connecticut Christmas Carol which was developed last year at the theater. The show is a Connecticut-centric take on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with a book by L J Fecho, and music and lyrics by Michael O’Flaherty,

L J Fecho serves as artistic director of Genesius Theatre in Reading, Penn. Fecho has worked for Broadway producer Alexander H. Cohen, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Goodspeed Musicals, Hudson Guild, Manhattan Theatre Club and Fulton Theatre. His play Just Another Illegitimate Child of John Lennon was presented at the Philadelphia Fringe. He wrote the book for Genesis – The Musical, which was presented at the 2006 Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals.

O’Flaherty has been Goodspeed’s resident music director for 27 seasonsHis Broadway credits include By JeevesGentlemen Prefer Blondes and A Streetcar Named Desire. His regional credits include Paper Mill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Ford's Theatre, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Kennedy Center, Pittsburgh Public Theatre and the Smithsonian Institution. Michael served as musical supervisor and cabaret director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival for 11 years.

A Connecticut Christmas Carol will be directed by Hunter Foster, who co-wrote Goodspeed’s Circus in Winter at The Terris Theatre in 2014.  Foster was nominated for an Outer Critic Award for Best New Off-Broadway musical for Summer of '42, which had a developmental production at The Terris Theatre in 2000. Hunter won a Suzie Bass Award for Best World Premiere for Clyde and Bonnie. He has directed Million Dollar Quartet (Westchester Broadway, Ogunquit Playhouse, Casa Mañana, St. Louis Rep, Paper Mill Playhouse and Geva Theatre) and The Bridges of Madison County, Clue and The Buddy Holly Story, among many others, for Bucks County Playhouse.

A season ticket for all three shows at the Terris Theatre starts at $108.  Advance season ticket packages will be available starting Feb. 26 through the box office (860.873.8668), Single tickets go on sale March 26.