“Giant” is a musical about a love story based on the classic novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edna Ferber. Previews began Off-Broadway at The Public’s Newman Theater, 425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY, on October 26, 2012. The official opening is set for November 13 and the production will run to December 2, 2012.
The Public Theater has a tradition of teaming up with non-profit theaters around the country. “Giant” is a co-production with Dallas Theater Center. Three-time Tony-nominated director, Michael Greif will direct the New York production as he was the director of the play at the Dallas Theater Center last winter. The Public Theater also has a great history of presenting new musicals, Shakespeare, and other classics with this strategy.
The musical’s world premiere was at the Signature Theatre Company in Arlington, VA, in 2009. This production ran for a total of four hours. The reviews of the production at the Dallas Theater Center were decent. The writers have since shortened the run time of the play and have made it ready for New York. The artistic director of The Public, Oskar Eustis told the cast last winter that if the critics like the production Off-Broadway, he’ll move it to Broadway in the spring, according to the NY Post.
“Giant” is a new American musical with book by Sybille Pearson and music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa. The novel was also made into a film version in 1956, which starred Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean. The story takes place in Texas from the 1920s to 40s. A cattleman/ranch heir and his new East Coast bride face trials and joys in a culture of greed and racial bigotry, with their family and enemies pressing down upon them in this story of love and woes in the grand state of Texas. A large cast of 22 actors and a 17-piece orchestra fits the musical’s title and theme.
The huge cast features: Enrique Acevedo (Miguel), Raul Aranas (Polo), Mary Bacon (Adarene, Mrs. Lynnton), Kate Baldwin (Leslie), Miguel Cervantes (Angel), Natalie Cortez (Juana), Rocio Del Mar Valles (Analita), John Dossett (Bawley), Jon Fletcher (Bobby Jr., Bobby Sr.), PJ Griffith (Jett), Michael Halling (Lord Karfrey, Lynnton), Brian d’Arcy James (Bick), Mackenzie Mauzy (Lil Luz), Doreen Montalvo (Lupe), Michele Pawk (Luz), Allison Rogers (Heidi, Lady Karfrey), Isabel Santiago (Deluvina), Martin Sola (DiModeo), Bobby Steggert (Jordy Jr.), Matthew Stocke (Mike), Katie Thompson (Vashti), and William Youmans (Pinkie).
The main love story centers around Leslie and Bick. Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin (“Finian’s Rainbow”) stars as Leslie, and Tony Award nominee Brian d’Arcy James (“Titanic,” “Shrek,” “Sweet Smell of Success,” “Smash”) stars as the rich cattleman Bick. P.J. Griffith (“American Idiot”) also stars as oil tycoon Jett. Many of the original cast members will connect again for the Off-Broadway production in New York.
Natalie Cortez (Juana) said, “The novel is absolutely brilliant and is brilliantly written and Sybille Pearson and Michael John LaChiusa…I love that they’re able to explore things and subjects now that I feel like maybe when the movie was made, weren’t really able to be explored comfortably…” in an interview with BroadwayWorld.com.
The production’s creative team includes: Jeff Mashie as costume designer, Allen Moyer as scenic designer, Ken Posner as lighting designer, Brian Ronan as sound designer, Alex Sanchez as choreographer, Chris Fenwick as musical director, and Bruce Coughlin as orchestrator.
Director Michael Greif said, “In a lot of ways, like the great Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, Michael John and Sybille’s musical is not only about very intense personal relationships, expressed beautifully in song, but also about how people live in communities, and have great heroic, history-changing effects on those communities, this musical is much like that,” as noted in an interview in Playbill.