Two-time Tony winner Donna Murphy will return to Broadway in the spring, starring in the new musical The People in the Picture. It will start performances at the American Airlines Theatre on April 1, 2011, with an official opening set for April 28, 2011.
The original musical features a book and lyrics by Iris Rainer Dart, best known as the author of the novel Beaches, and a score by Mike Stoller (whose pop songs with Jerry Leiber were featured in the Broadway musical Smokey Joe’s Café) and Artie Butler. With the title Laughing Matters, the show was previously announced for the Pasadena Playhouse in November 2009, but the run never materialized.
In the show, Murphy will play Bubbie, a grandmother in 1970s New York City who was once the darling of the Yiddish Theatre in pre-war Poland. Although her granddaughter Jenny is enchanted by her tales of the old world, her daughter Red, a TV writer, will do anything to keep from looking back at the Holocaust and her childhood in Warsaw. According to press materials, the musical “celebrates the importance of learning from our past and the power of laughter.” Leonard Foglia (Master Class, Thurgood) will direct The People in the Picture, his first musical on Broadway.
Murphy was last seen on Broadway playing Lotte Lenya in the 2007 musical Lovemusik. She won Tony Awards for her work in the Stephen Sondheim musical Passion and the acclaimed 1996 revival of The King and I. Other Broadway credits include They’re Playing Our Song, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Wonderful Town. Last season, she was seen in the Encores! revival of Anyone Can Whistle. A busy actress in TV and film as well, she will next be heard as the voice of Mother Gothel in the Disney animated film Tangled.
No further casting has been announced at this time, but Leslie Kritzer (A Catered Affair, Sondheim on Sondheim) played Red in a reading of the musical earlier this year.
Other creative team members include Paul Gemingnani (musical director), Andy Blankenbuehler (choreography), Riccardo Hernandez (sets), Ann Hould-Ward (costumes), Howell Binkley (lights), Dan Moses Schreier (sound), Elaine J. McCarthy (projections) and Paul Huntley (hair and wigs).
Roundabout Theatre Company will produce the limited engagement, set to play through June 19, 2011.