Yank! Musical Will March Directly Into Regional Theatres
By Kenneth Jones
Yank!, the musical about a young gay American soldier facing first love as he is swept into World War II, will have a cast album and a future licensing life rather than an imminent Broadway production.
The producers who were developing the show — with lauded director David Cromer on board for what they said would be a Broadway bow in 2012 or 2013 — are no longer attached to the property by composer Joseph Zellnik and lyricist-librettist David Zellnik.
The musical seen Off-Broadway in February-March 2010 in a production by York Theatre Company is not based on source material but inspired by countless gay men, lesbians and bisexuals who served in the armed forces during World War II, often loving and living in secret and at their own peril.
Joseph Zellnik told Playbill.com in a Nov. 29 email, "We're tremendously excited for Yank! to begin to reach audiences around the country. We're currently in negotiations with one of the top licensing houses in the business and are in the midst of determining exactly where and when the show will make its regional premiere. An album will definitely be a part of this rollout."
The 2010 York version of the show, with some revisions since then, will be represented when Yank! plays stock, amateur, student and regional markets.
In the spring 2010 York Theatre version of Yank!, Tony Award nominee Bobby Steggert (Ragtime, Giant) played a 21st-century man who happens on the 1940s-era diary of a gay G.I. That story came to life, with Steggert embodying the soldier. The York production received seven Drama Desk nominations, including Outstanding Musical; two Outer Critics Circle nominations, including Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical; and two Lucille Lortel Award nominations, including Outstanding Musical.
Stylistically, the score is traditional — no rock or contemporary pop here, but songs as Rodgers and Hammerstein might have written them.
The show was previously billed this way: "Yank! tells the story of a young G.I. working for the real Army weekly, Yank, who faces the two scariest things he can imagine: world war and first love. The show combines sweeping romance with the gritty reality of the war in the Pacific, with a score that harkens back to the lushness of classic Broadway musicals."
The fall 2011 Cromer-directed workshop of the show was produced by The Old Globe, with additional producers attached. The workshop ran Oct. 20-Nov. 17 and included a private industry presentation of the show. That cast included Ragtime Tony nominee Steggert (as Stu, the lead G.I.), Billy Elliot and Importance of Being Earnest veteran Santino Fontana (Mitch), pop star Nellie McKay (Helen), 2006 A Chorus Line alumnus Jeffrey Schecter (Artie), 2011 House of Blue Leaves resident Tally Sessions (Czechowski), Colt Prattes (Tennessee), Cory Michael Smith (Professor), Morgan Spector (Sarge), Jared Gertner (Melanie), Scott Barnhardt (Scarlett), Charles MacEarchern (Soldier 1), Adam Perry (Soldier 2, Interrogator), Cole Escola (India), Cody Williams (Cohen) and Brian Cali (Rotelli).
There was also a February 2011 Manhattan reading of the show featuring Steggert.
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