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What's New on the Rialto

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What's New on the Rialto

The Civil War, the highly anticipated new Broadway musical composed by Frank Wildhorn, whose musicals Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel are currently enjoying great success in New York, will have its official Broadway premiere at the newly restored St. James theater on Thursday, April 22, 1999 following a series of previews. The musical will be staged by four-time Tony Award-winning director, Jerry Zaks, and is being produced by Pierre Cossette, PACE Theatrical Group, Inc., Bomurwil Productions, Kathleen Raitt, Magicworks Entertainment, Inc. and Jujamcyn Theaters.

With the opening of The Civil War, Frank Wildhorn will become the only American composer in the past twenty years to have three shows running simultaneously on Broadway.

Written by Mr. Wildhorn, Gregory Boyd (Artistic Director of Houston's Alley Theater, where The Civil War was originally commissioned and produced) and Jack Murphy (Silver Dollar), The Civil War is a musical saga that takes audiences beyond the bugle calls and the battlefields to tell the stories of the real people who went to war for what they believed in. The authors have adapted such original source material as letters, diaries, contemporary newspaper accounts, and other historical texts, as well as the poetry of Walt Whitman, speeches by Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and other great orators of the day, to create a thematic musical tapestry - "an emotional landscape" - which movingly recounts individual hope and heroics, love and loss, and the private battles between brothers. The Civil War is directly inspired by the actual wartime correspondence of soldiers and slaves, generals and Presidents, wives and mothers and is filled with the passion, idealism, turmoil and heroism of the men and women who defined a nation at a time when honor was something worth fighting for and freedom a cause worth dying for.

A distinguished creative team has been assembled for The Civil War which includes, in addition to director Jerry Zaks (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Guys and Dolls, Six Degrees of Separations, and the Miramax film, Marvin's Room), musical staging by Luis Perez (the new Barry Levinson film, Liberty Heights), set designer Douglas W. Schmidt (Grease, Damn Yankees); lighting designer Paul Gallo (Crazy For You, Guys and Dolls), costume designer William Ivey Long (Chicago, Cabaret), sound designer Karl Richardson (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel), and projections designer Wendall K. Harrington (Ragtime, Tommy). The fight director is David Leong and the show's musical team includes Kim Scharnberg (Orchestrator), Jason Howland (Musical Supervisor), Jeff Lams (Musical Director) and Dave Clemmons (Vocal Director). In addition, renowned Civil War expert and Columbia University Professor of History, Eric Foner, is consulting on the project to ensure its historical authenticity.

The 26-member ensemble cast showcases acclaimed singers from Broadway, Nashville, and pop/r&b music, and includes Michel Bell (Showboat), Matt Bogart (Miss Saigon), Gilles Chiasson (Rent), Lawrence Clayton (Dreamgirls), Dave Clemmons, Mike Eldred, David Michael Felty, Cheryl Freeman (Play On!, Tommy), Hope Harris, Capathia Jenkins, Keith Byron Kirk (Miss Saigon), Michael Lanning, Bethy Leavel (Crazy For You), David M. Lutken, Gene Miller, Irene Molloy (Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind), Wayne Pretlow, Jim Price, Royal Reed, Christopher Robers, John Sawyer, Ron Sharpe, Bart Shatto and Cassandra White.

Atlantic Records is releasing an unprecedented series of three distinct recordings based on The Civil War. Each recording is designed not only as a companion to the Broadway musical, but also as a unique rendition of the show's music and concept. The Civil War: The Complete Work - an all-star "concept record" featuring all the musical content of the Broadway show performed by such artists as Hootie and the Blowfish, Dr. John, Patti LaBelle, Amy Grant, Bebe Winans, Betty Buckley and Linda Eder intermingled with thematic readings by poet Maya Angelou and actors James Garner, Danny Glover and Ellen Burstyn - has been released in record stores all across the United States after more than two years of preparation. The first in a series of Frank Wildhorn Civil War album projects, "The Nashville Sessions," was released nationally on November 3rd to coincide with the show's regional theater staging at the Alley Theater in Houston. It, too, is now in record stores, and features selections from the show performed by many of country music's biggest stars including Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, Deana Carter, Charlie Daniels and Trace Adkins. The Civil War "Original Broadway Cast Recording" will follow this summer.

The Civil War will be performed on Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 8:00 p.m. with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. During the preview period of March 23rd through April 21st, Sunday performances will be at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and there will be no Wednesday matinees.

Tickets for all performances range in price from $20.00 to $75.00 and may be obtained by calling TeleCharge at (212) 239-6200 or in person at the St. James Theater Box Office. Visit The Civil War website for more information.

See you Thursday!

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