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City Center has been after Reba McEntire for THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN for years
Last Edit: Marlo*Manners 03:59 pm EST 11/12/20
Posted by: Marlo*Manners 03:46 pm EST 11/12/20
In reply to: re: Reba McEntire in another Broadway musical -- WILDCAT or THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN? - mermaniac 09:23 am EST 11/12/20

Karen Ziemba was approached by the ENCORES! people about doing another show with them and Ziemba told them that Molly Brown was a dream role of hers. Karen was told that they were wanting Reba for Molly. I was also told that the ENCORES! people and the Weisslers put together a workshop reading of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN starring Sutton Foster as Molly as a showcase for Reba McEntire - she wasn't impressed with the show. Since then there were a bunch of "revisal" UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN productions with Beth Malone that sank, including that one done Off-Broadway. MOLLY BROWN didn't work even with all the changes - except for one or two numbers the score isn't strong and the second act is problematic. Reba does have the star power of a Tammy Grimes and Debbie Reynolds who put it over on Broadway and onscreen and in stock. In her touring stock production, Debbie Reynolds added a prologue where the older Molly recounts her life story on the Titanic lifeboat as a flashback, thus justifying an older actress playing the teenage tomboy ingenue of Act 1.

Reba is 65 but has maintained a youthful look and energy and could still pull off Sally Adams, Miss Mona and definitely Dolly. Her singing definitely has country music built into it which could work as Annie Oakley, was managed well as Nellie Forbush and could fit perfectly as Miss Mona, Wildcat and Molly Brown. Sally Adams and Dolly Levi would require her to tone down the country music phrasing a bit - but it could work.

One thing about ENCORES! is that it is a minimal time commitment for someone who has a busy movie and television, concert and recording career like McEntire. But if she is talking about Broadway, then she wouldn't want a 7 performance run of an obscure old 50s or 60s semi-flop like "Goldilocks!" or "Wildcat!" or whatever. I wonder if this is a situation like Bette Midler returning to Broadway after over 50 years - they wanted Bette back for decades but she waited until she was 70 and over to come back. Midler might have sung and acted Dolly Levi with more energy and ease back around 1998 when she was closer to the age of the role - 40's or 50's. This situation with Reba wanting to return to Broadway now at age 65 may be due to other venues like film and television losing interest in her as an older woman.

The most recent ENCORES! revival of "Call Me Madam" didn't exactly send anyone over the moon though Carmen Cusack was charming as Miss Sally Adams. Reba has more of the star wattage of a Merman. But that show won't bring in the tourists though Reba live would. Someone like Hugh Jackman would not be interested in a supporting juvenile role like Ken - that could go to Daniel Radcliffe possibly if you are aiming for a star or one of his HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING J. Pierrepoint Finch replacements like Darren Criss or Nick Jonas.

Possibly Reba could get an original score and book written for her but that is quite risky.

Marlo Manners (Lady Barrington)
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