The 2010 Utah Shakespearean Festival summer season will feature an electrifying world premiere musical, “Great Expectations.” Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, the musical will run from July 1 to August 28 in repertory with five other productions. Tickets are on sale now at bard.org and 1-800-PLAYTIX (800-752-9849).
“The first time I experienced this musical it brought tears to my eyes,” said Fred C. Adams, Festival founder. “I think our audience members will be pleasantly surprised as they watch this glorious journey unfold.”
Adams discovered the musical at a developmental workshop at the Odyssey Theatre in the fall of 2008. Adams and the Festival’s executive director, R. Scott Phillips, traveled to Los Angeles to see the workshop after receiving a call from Darryl Archibald, who has previously worked at the Festival. Archibald will serve as the music director for “Great Expectations.”
“Darryl said I simply had to drive up and see the show because it was perfect for Festival audiences,” said Adams. “After the performance we approached the creators to talk about the possibility of the Festival presenting the world premiere. Scott and I spent the entire drive home discussing the show and how we were going to make this happen.”
One of the most beloved novels of all times, “Great Expectations” is the story of a poor orphan whose life is transformed by a mysterious benefactor. The musical will feature a live orchestra, an amazing set, and a thrilling cast of actors.
“The set is wonderfully evocative of the many places that Pip will journey throughout the show,” said Raymond Inkel, production director. “It keeps Satis House at the forefront of the mind, illustrating the draw the house continues to have on Pip.”
The cast is filled with Festival veterans as well as exciting new faces. A complete cast list can be found at www.bard.org.
“The cast of ‘Great Expectations’ features veterans of the American entertainment industry from Broadway to film to regional theatre,” said Kathleen F. Conlin, Festival associate artistic director. “This glorious ensemble rivals that of any contemporary musical.”
The concept for the musical arose from the dream of a ninth-grade English literature teacher. Margaret Hoorneman taught “Great Expectations” to her students in Le Mars, Iowa for twelve years, and at 92 she began adapting the novel into a musical. Hoorneman contacted her grandson, Brian VanDerWilt, who enlisted the talents of Steve Lozier to help him with the book, Richard Winzeler to write the score, and Steve Lane to write the lyrics.
“The story has a universal appeal,” said Hoorneman. “The novel is filled with rich characters, drama, humor, a good story line, and Dickens' recurrent message of social reform.”
“Dickens’ timeless prose is interwoven with soaring, rich music posing questions about life’s expectations and realities,” added R. Scott Phillips, Festival executive director. “It is amazing how rich a life can be when we learn to trust our hearts.”
Jules Aaron, who will direct the premiere this summer, fell in love with the script four years ago when the writers contacted him about developing the project.
“I first experienced the music in my car,” said Aaron. “When those first glorious notes filled my car I honestly said ‘I want to direct this show!’ It was a visceral feeling that lasted for an hour and a half as I drove.”
Aaron has spent his career producing new musicals such as “Broads,” “Among Many Others,” “When Garbo Talks,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” and “Better Than Beethoven.”
“This show features one of the most luscious musical scores that I have heard in years,” said Aaron. “The play is a love story at heart. It is filled with considerable humor, wonderful characters, touching moments, and exciting spectacle. You can go see the show with your family because it will appeal to audience members of all ages.”
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you won’t want to miss,” said Adams. “Many of our patrons have regretted not seeing the world premiere of ‘Lend Me a Tenor: The Musical’ in 2007 now that it is planning on opening in London. I hope everyone gets their tickets to ‘Great Expectations’ early so they won’t miss out this summer.”
The summer season will also include Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing,” “The Merchant of Venice,” and “Macbeth,” in addition to Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps,” and Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” The Festival is located on the corner of 300 W. and Center St. in Cedar City, Utah.