Broadway.com has learned that British musical theater star Julian Ovenden is poised to star in an off-Broadway production of Maury Yeston and Thomas Meehan’s long-brewing musical Death Takes a Holiday, directed by Doug Hughes.
Ovenden first burst on to the scene playing Franklin Shepard in a Michael Grandage-directed production of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along in 2000 at the Donmar. The actor recently revisited that musical for two performances in the 10th anniversary London concerts at the Queen's Theatre. He starred in the 2004 London revival of Yeston’s Grand Hotel at the Donmar, also directed by Grandage. Ovenden’s other London credits include the West End musical Marguerite, opposite Ruthie Henshall and Alexander Hanson; Frank Butler in Annie Get Your Gun at the Young Vic with Jane Horrocks; and two acclaimed turns this past summer as a guest artist at the BBC Prom. Ovenden will appear in a Royal Festival Hall concert version Singin' in the Rain, playing Don Lockwood, Gene Kelly's screen role, on November 7. He made his Broadway debut in 2006 alongside Nathan Lane in a revival of Simon Gray's play Butley.
Death Takes a Holiday began as an Alberto Casella play from the 1920s that was made into a much-loved 1934 film starring Fredric March as Death, disguised here as a debonair nobleman. For the stage musical, Yeston (Nine, Titanic and Grand Hotel) first partnered with librettist Peter Stone, who died in 2003. He then collaborated with Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray). The original film was remade in 1998 as Meet Joe Black, starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins. The musical version was once attached to Antonio Banderas and his Nine director David Leveaux. Steven Pasquale played Death in a spring 2009 reading of the show.