By Adam Hetrick
05 Sep 2013
The Chicago-area theatre company will be the first professional organization in the U.S. to stage Women on the Verge since its 2010 Broadway premiere. The technically ambitious original, staged by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher, left critics cool - playing only 30 previews and 69 regular performances.
Based on the Academy Award-nominated film by Pedro Almodovar, Women on the Verge will run Sept. 11-Oct. 19, 2014. The production will reflect a revised version of the musical. Creators Jeffrey Lane (book) and Yazbek have revised the script and re-ordered several songs in the new version.
The musical will be staged in the Center's intimate 400-seat theatre, which features a proscenium with a large thrust stage. Among the challenges for artistic director Bill Pullinsi, who will helm the production, are staging the musical's cinematic scenes, which often overlap. He'll also have to corral both a taxi and a motorcycle chase on stage.
"The story can be much clearer," Pullinsi said. "We have to make sure the audience can understand it all and follow the story. It's very cinematic, but it's also a very witty sex farce."
Pullinsi is no stranger to staging musicals that weren't well-received in their original premiere. After attending the Boston try-out of the ill-fated musical Rags, Pullinsi became an investor in the Broadway production. "I thought it would be a sure-fire hit," he laughed. "By the time they got to New York, they had cut and ruined the whole thing."
Rags never left Pullinsi's mind, and years later he sent his own revised version of the musical to book writer Joe Stein. "He read it and approved of it." Pullinsi's revised version would make its Chicago-area premiere in 1987. "I directed it and for many years that was the licensed version of the show," he said.
A cast of 16 will be employed for the Center's production of Women on the Verge. Pullinsi and Theatre at the Center's general manager Richard Friedman are currently in talks with Chicago's top musical theatre performers to be part of the production. The New York premiere boasted Patti LuPone, Sherie Rene Scott and Laura Benanti.
The Theatre at the Center's season will also include the Johnny Cash musical revue Ring of Fire (Feb. 20-March 30, 2014), Miracle on South Division St. (May 1-June, 2014), The Beverly Hillbillies (July 10-Aug. 10, 2014) and a musical adaptation of A Christmas Memory (Nov. 13-Dec. 14, 2014).