To the Moon, Alice! Honeymooners Musical Will Star Michael McGrath in 2013; Jerry Mitchell Helms

By Kenneth Jones
December 6, 2012

Michael McGrath, the Broadway clown who won a Tony Award for playing a Noo Yawk bootlegger in Nice Work If You Can Get It, will bring his populist touch to the iconic role of bus driver Ralph Kramden in the world premiere of the musical The Honeymooners, under the direction of Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, who will also choreograph.



The Old Globe in San Diego, CA, will open its 2013-14 season with the TV sitcom-inspired show, which has book by Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss, music by Stephen Weiner and lyrics by Peter Mills. Previews begin in September 2013.

Mitchell's projects over the years include the current Kinky Boots, plus The Full Monty, Never Gonna Dance, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can and the first Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles.

Portly and pugnacious New York City bus driver Kramden, originally played by Jackie Gleason in the vintage CBS TV series, was always sparring with his loudmouth wife, Alice (originally Audrey Meadows), and suffering the dimness of his sewer-worker best friend, Ed Norton (originally Art Carney), who was married to Trixie (originally Joyce Randolph). The series existed in a time (the mid-1950s) when threatening to slug your wife (sending her "to the moon") was a source of hilarity; love and affection would always triumph — the yearning, working-class characters were inevitably reconciled at the end of every half-hour.

Here's how The Old Globe describes the new musical comedy: "Ralph Kramden and his buddy Ed Norton are back with a whole new scheme in this world-premiere musical. The two friends enter a jingle contest, and much to the shock of their long-suffering wives, they actually win! Soon they are catapulted out of Brooklyn and into the cutthroat world of Madison Avenue, where they find themselves torn between success and friendship. Bursting with bouncy tunes and showbiz pizzazz, The Honeymooners will send audiences to the moon!"

The Honeymooners, presented under a license from CBS, will run on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage in the Old Globe Theatre, part of the Globe's Conrad Prebys Theatre Center, Sept. 8-Oct. 27, 2013. Preview performances run Sept. 8-20. Opening night is Sept. 22.

The complete creative team and casting will be announced at a later date.

Old Globe artistic director Barry Edelstein said in a statement, "I'm happy to see the brilliant Michael McGrath make his Globe debut, and I'm especially pleased to welcome the hugely talented Jerry Mitchell back to this theatre, where he choreographed The Full Monty, Imaginary Friends and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. As a kid I was a full-blown 'Honeymooners' addict, and I 'bang-zoomed' away many more hours with the Kramdens and Nortons than I should probably admit. That's why it's a special joy to see Ralph, Ed, Alice and Trixie come to vivid life on our stage and to introduce these iconic American characters to a new generation."

Created by comedian, actor and musician Jackie Gleason, "The Honeymooners" was launched as a six-minute sketch on Gleason's "Cavalcade of Stars" in 1951. It became a series in 1955. The plots often involved harebrained schemes to make quick cash.

McGrath won the 2012 Tony Award for Featured Actor in a Musical and a Drama Desk Award for Nice Work If You Can Get It. He has also appeared on Broadway in Born Yesterday, Memphis, Spamalot (Tony and Drama Desk nominations), Is He Dead?, Wonderful Town, Little Me, Swinging on a Star (Theatre World Award, Drama Desk nomination), The Goodbye Girl and My Favorite Year.

Dusty Kay (book) is a screenwriter, playwright and producer. He was the supervising producer of "Entourage," for which he received Emmy, Writers Guild and Golden Globe Award nominations. As supervising producer of "Roseanne," he received a Golden Globe nomination. Kay wrote and produced the television movie "Triplecross" (ABC), was supervising producer of "Early Edition" and "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (Warner Brothers/ABC) and was creator and executive producer of "Once a Hero" (ABC).

Bill Nuss (book) is a television show runner, writer and producer. He is president of Confidential Pictures, a Los Angeles-based production company that supplies primetime series to network and cable broadcasters. Nuss has produced, written or created over 300 hours of network primetime series. In addition to the new "Hawaii Five-0" and "NCIS," he worked with his mentor, the late Stephen J. Cannell, on Fox's first hit, "21 Jump Street" starring Johnny Depp, "Booker," "The A-Team" and more. Nuss was the creator and executive producer of "Pacific Blue" starring Mario Lopez, on USA Network.

Stephen Weiner (composer) composed the score to the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Iron Curtain with Peter Mills. His additional scores include The Rivals, Rocket Science, Once Upon a Time in New Jersey, The Hudsucker Proxy, newyorkers and Spittin' Image. He is the winner of two Richard Rodgers Awards, a Jonathan Larson Grant, an ASCAP New Horizons Award and the Global Search for New Musicals Award. He is also an Obie, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award nominee. Weiner is a member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild of America.

Peter Mills (lyricist) contributed the lyrics to the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Iron Curtain with music by Stephen Weiner. He has received the 2011 Cole Porter Award, the 2010 Kleban Prize, the 2007 Fred Ebb Award and two 2005 Drama Desk Award nominations for his show The Pursuit of Persephone, and he is also a 2002 Jonathan Larson Grant recipient. As a composer/lyricist, his shows include Illyria, The Flood and Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge. He holds an M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Writing from New York University and a degree in English/Dramatic Literature from Princeton University. Mills is a founding member of Prospect Theater Company.

Tickets to The Honeymooners are currently available by subscription only. Tickets can be purchased online at OldGlobe.org, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE or by visiting the Box Office at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park.