Goodspeed gets back to ‘Mack’

Theater to wrap 2004 season with musical

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Add Goodspeed Opera House to the list of theaters that want to try their hand at bringing new life to Jerry Herman’s cult tuner “Mack and Mabel.”

The theater in East Haddam, Conn. will wrap its three-show 2004 season with the mid-’70s musical, with the blessing of Herman, whose “Dear World” received a workshop revival at Goodspeed’s smaller theater in Chester a few years ago.

“Mack and Mabel” will run Oct. 1-Dec. 12, directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman (Broadway’s recently shuttered “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks”), who helmed a well-received concert staging for Reprise! in L.A.

Choreography will be by Dan Siretta. The musical’s Michael Stewart book will be revised by Francine Pascal. The original show, based on silent film director Mack Sennett and star Mabel Normand, starred Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters and was directed and choreographed by Gower Champion.

The season’s other two productions are revivals of star-driven shows: Irving Berlin’s “Call Me Madam,” which was tailor-made for Ethel Merman in 1950, and Frank Loesser’s Broadway bow, “Where’s Charley?,” which starred Ray Bolger.

The Goodspeed “Madam” will be directed and choreographed by James Brennan, whose most recent gig was staging Paper Mill’s “The Sound of Music.” He was also the successor lead in Broadway’s “Crazy for You” and “Me and My Girl.” The musical, loosely based on the life of Truman-era D.C. hostess Perle Mesta, will run April 16-July 3.

“Where’s Charley?,” based on the cross-dressing comedy classic “Charley’s Aunt,” will be staged by award-winning set designer-turned-director Tony Walton. The 1948 Loesser show will run July 9-Sept. 25.

Both shows were originally staged by George Abbott, with Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse penning “Call Me Madam” and Abbott adapting the Brandon Thomas 1892 farce for “Where’s Charley?”

In the three-show Chester season, only “All Shook Up” has been announced. The show is a New York-bound workshop “inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley,” under the authorization of the Presley estate. The musical, which will have a book by Joe DiPietro (“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”) will run May 13-June 6.

Casting has not been announced, but longtime casting director Warren Pincus will not be shepherding talent for the new shows. A Goodspeed spokesman said the theater wanted new casting teams for each of the shows.

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