Julie Andrews Directs ‘Mousical’ at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theater



by Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Critics On The Aisle™

The hills of Connecticut are going to be alive with the sounds of music as Julie Andrews directs a new musical— “The Great American Mousical”—at Goodspeed Musical’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester. This developmental production runs November 8 through December 2.

The show is based on the best-selling book by Ms. Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, with illustrations by Tony Walton.

Unfolding below the bright lights of Broadway in the depths of the historic Sovereign Theatre, this is story of a troupe of musical-making mice who are in the throes of rehearsing a new show.  When the theatre is threatened by demolition and their diva, Adelaide, disappears, it will take all paws on deck to fulfill the time-honored tradition: the show must go on. Filled with singing, dancing, and show biz lore, “The Great American Mousical” is a tribute to life in the theatre and celebrates two of the most delight-inspring words in the English language: musical comedy.

The other talented collaborators on the team include Zina Goldrich, who composed the score with lyrics by Marcy Heisler; a book by Tony-nominee writer Hunter Bell; choreography by Tony-nominee Christopher Gattelli; and sets and costumes designed by Oscar-, Tony- and Emmy-winner Tony Walton.

“Emma, Tony and I had so much fun working on this book and are now overjoyed that it will come alive on the stage,” said Julie Andrews.  “I’m so blessed to be working with this creative team in adapting our book for the theatre.”

Michael Price, Executive Director of Goodspeed Musicals, adds, “Julie Andrews and Tony Walton have been part of the Goodspeed family for several years and we are thrilled to have them back with us to work on this delightful musical. Adding Zina, Marcy, and Hunter to the creative team makes the project even more exciting.”

The Norma Terris Theatre has tiered seating that provides unobstructed views of the stage, an eclectic club-like lobby, and ample free-parking. It’s located at 33 North Main, Street, Chester, and tickets are now on sale at the Goodspeed’s box office, 860.873.8668, and on-line at www.goodspeed.org.

Ms. Andrews has directed productions for Bay Street Theatre and Goodspeed Musicals, including “The Boy Friend” and its national tour. Beside years of applause and cheers from her adoring public, this legendary performer is also the recipient of an Academy Award, Kennedy Center Honors, Golden Globe, Emmy, Grammy, BAFTA, People’s Choice Award, Theatre World Award and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

In 2002 Elizabeth II officially named Ms. Andrews Dame of the British Empire (DBE) for her services to the performing arts at Buckingham Palace.

Emma Walton Hamilton is a best-selling children’s book author, professional editor and arts educator.  She co-founded the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York, where she served in numerous capacities through 2008, and is currently a faculty member in the MFA program in writing and literature on Stony Brook’s Southampton campus on Long Island.

Composer Zina Goldrich, along with long-time lyricist Marcy Heisler, is currently working on the musical adaptation of “Ever After” with director Kathleen Marshall.  Zina’s honors include the Fred Ebb Award, ASCAP’s Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, Seldes-Kanin Fellowship, and a Jonathan Larson grant.

Lyricist Marcy Heisler, with composer Zina Goldrich, was named the 2009 winner of the Fred Ebb Award for outstanding songwriting.   Her awards include the Richard Rodgers New Horizons Theatre Award and Jamie De Roy and Friends Award (ASCAP), a Seldes-Kanin Fellowship.

Librettist Hunter Bell earned an OBIE Award, Drama League nomination, and Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical. As an actor, Hunter has appeared on and off Broadway and in numerous regional theatres, including the Goodspeed Opera House and The Norma Terris Theatre.

Choreographer Christopher Gattelli’s Broadway credits include the current revival of “Godspell.” He directed the world premiere of Jim Henson’s first musical, “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas,” and the world premiere of “Radio Girl,” for Goodspeed Musicals.

The set and costume designer of this new musical, Tony Walton, has been honored for his contributions to the theater, movies and television with Tony Awards for “Pippin,” “House of Blue Leaves,” and “Guys and Dolls.”   Walton also directed and designed the triumphant Goodspeed production of “Where’s Charley?” designed sets and costumes for the Goodspeed production and the national tour of “The Boy Friend, and has received acclaim for his productions at the Irish Repertory, The York, Old Globe and Bay Street Theatres.

With boundless appeal for theater lovers, “The Great American Mousical” should entertain adults and kids with its wit and enlightening musical-theatre history—and an imagination-filled celebration of the characters that inhabit the Sovereign Theatre.

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