Thursday, February 26, 2009

iSondheim out, Jacques Brel in at Alliance

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 10:11 PM

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Citing the current economic climate, the Alliance Theatre has announced the cancellation of the world premiere musical iSOndheim. The new multimedia musical revue of musical theater legend Stephen Sondheim would have closed out the theater's 40th season. I'll let the press release explain what went wrong:

The production was cancelled because of difficulties encountered by the commercial producers attached to the project, the Frankel/Viertel/Baruch/Routh group, in raising the necessary funds for the multi-media musical revue of Sondheim’s life and career.

A representative of the group said, “The show’s extensive technical requirements for film and multi-media projection required raising, what proved to be, an extraordinarily large amount of additional money; millions, actually, which was simply unavailable for a non-commercial production in the current economic climate.  We regret the situation as the Alliance Theatre was ready, willing and able to fulfill their commitments for financing and infrastructure to stage this production.  We intend to produce the show at another date.”

Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth said, “This came as heartbreaking news to us.  We were very much looking forward to working with James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim on such an exceptional theatrical project, but we recognize the extraordinary challenges our partners were facing in their efforts to capitalize this production.”

Ironically, iSondheim was itself a replacement show. When the Alliance officially announced its season last February, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a musical collaboration by horror novelist Stephen King and rock musician John Mellencamp, was originally supposed to close the theater's season. When Darkland County was postponed last fall, the Alliance named iSondheim to fill theslot.

The Alliance should have no trouble retaining its last choice, having found a substitute in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (pictured), a musical revue directed by Booth for Hertz Stage in Fall of 2007.The lovely tribute to Belgian-born troubadour Jacques Brel will make the leap to the Alliance mainstage, possibly undermining the intimate French cabaret quality of original production. Nevertheless, it's a bang-up show that seems like a viable understudy to fill in at the last minute. Performances of Jacques Brel begin April 15.

Photo by Greg Mooney

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