The Best Musical of 2014 will come to Proctors in September to kick off its national tour, and two of Broadway’s most successful musicals ever will return for a second engagement in Schenectady, highlighting the 2015-2016 Key Private Bank Broadway Series.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” still running on Broadway, will launch its national tour at Proctors Sept. 19-26, while the stage crew and much of the cast will be in Schenectady for three weeks doing technical rehearsal before the show opens. Also announced at Monday night’s Broadway Bash at Proctors was the return of “The Lion King” for a full month in the spring of 2016, as well as another production of “The Book of Mormon” for a week this fall.
“This is what folks mean when they say big Broadway,” Proctors CEO Philip Morris said in a press release announcing the schedule, “and we’re thrilled to be teching and launching the national tour of the 2014 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.’ What a season. What a value.”
Also making their way to Proctors’ Key Private Bank Broadway Series before the year is out will be “Motown the Musical,” “Matilda The Musical,” and “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” will kick off 2016, and after the extended run of “The Lion King,” “Once” will finish up the 2015-16 season in May.
At a glance
A look at the Proctors 2015-2016 Key Private Bank Broadway Series:
‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder’
WHEN: Sept. 19-26
‘The Book of Mormon’
WHEN: Oct. 20-25
‘Motown the Musical’
WHEN: Nov. 17-22
‘Matilda The Muscial’
WHEN: Dec. 8-13
‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’
WHEN: Dec. 22-27
‘Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella’
WHEN: Jan. 19-24, 2016
‘Disney’s The Lion King’
WHEN: March 22-April 17, 2016
WHEN: May 10-15, 2016
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” won the 2014 Tony over “After Midnight,” “Aladdin,” and “Beautiful - The Carole King Musical.” It won four Tonys in all, including Best Book of a Musical, and was nominated for Best Score. Robert L. Freedman wrote the book and Steven Lutvak created the music and lyrics.
“It’s the story of a poor young man, Monty, growing up in London who discovers at his mother’s funeral that he is actually heir to a very wealthy and powerful family,” said Greg Jackson, who, along with fellow Broadway cast member Kristin Hahn performed a medley from the play during Monday nights’ event. “He appeals to the family for work, and when he gets snubbed, he hatches a plan to knock off all of the eight family members that stand before him in the line of succession. It brings together modern sensibilities with classic sensibilities, and it is very entertaining. The music is very accomplished in a way you don’t see much on Broadway these days.”
Jackson plays number of roles in the Broadway production, and served as understudy for the lead character, while Hahn is a swing performer and played one of the female leads, Sabella, for Monday night’s offering.
Also performing Monday night was J. Michael Zygo, who played a variety of characters and also served as understudy for the male lead in “Once,” the winner of eight Tony Awards in 2012, including Best Musical.
“It’s a play about an Irish street singer who meets a Czech immigrant who plays the piano and they become friends,” said Zygo, a Rochester native and SUNY-Geneseo graduate who is married to Burnt Hills native Jillian Nyhan. “They have a mutual love for music, and they end up making music together surrounded by a lot of other interesting folks, family and friends. It’s not a musical in the traditional sense because the songs don’t just spring up out of nowhere. They come out of real places in the story line and are sung by those characters.”
“Once,” a movie first and winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Song, also puts all its actors to work playing their own instruments.
Zygo, who performed with his wife in the national touring production of “Oklahoma!” at Proctors in 2006, will not be a part of the national tour of “Once.”
“I’m working on some other things right now,” said Zygo, who played the Emcee in the Broadway production. “I have some more auditioning to do, and we also have a 7-month-old baby, so this is a great time for me to be home.”
Performing a medley from “Motown the Musical” were Syndee Winters and Curtis Wiley. Winters played Mary Wells on Broadway and Wiley played a variety of roles. Monday night they were Diana Ross and Motown boss Berry Gordy.
“Not only is it the music of Motown, but it is the story of how Motown became a part of American life,” said Winters. “It’s the inside scoop on what went on there from the source. It’s about Berry Gordy’s journey through Motown.”
Winters and Wiley are not in the cast for the national tour, and are instead working on a brand new musical based on the careers of Lena Horne and Cab Calloway.