Red Bull Theater presents a one-night-only staging of Maltby and Shire’s new musical The Country Wife December 11.
Set in 1840s New Orleans, The Country Wife questions who owns the stories we call classics. A musical reimagining of William Wycherly's classic Restoration comedy, the raucous new musical reunites Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire to raise funds for Red Bull.
The production stars Carson Elrod (Peter and the Starcatcher), Eddie Korbich (The Music Man), Kristolyn Lloyd (1776), Ellyn Marie Marsh (The Rose Tattoo), Gabe Martinez (Moulin Rouge!), Brad Oscar (Little Shop of Horrors), Julian Remulla (Julius Caesar), Jelani Remy (Back to the Future), Christina Sajous (The Who's Tommy), Lauren Worsham (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder), Andy Grotelueschen (The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, Tootsie), Jennifer Fouché (Chicago, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep him Alive, Chicken and Biscuits), and Nicholas Edwards (& Juliet).
The production is directed by Maltby himself, and has musical direction by Greg Jarrett, choreography by Lisa Shrive, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Paul Hudson, and projection design by Brad Peterson. Produced in partnership with Art Lab Productions, the production is made possible in part by the additional dedicated support of Marty Granoff and Ted and Mary Jo Shen.
"The Country Wife is pretty much a love letter to the astonishing city of New Orleans. It’s hard to explain where ideas for musicals come from, but for years I’ve been intrigued by the thought of doing an American version of a Restoration comedy, and the notion of setting it in pre-Civil War New Orleans pulled the whole project together," said Maltby in an earlier statement. "New Orleans in 1840 was the most cosmopolitan, diverse city in American history. The population was a bouillabaisse of French colonials, Southern aristocrats, Free Men and Women of Color, French Arcadians—the Cajuns—from Canada, Creoles of all kinds, educated blacks escaping form the Haitian revolution, and American adventurers from everywhere. The Mississippi had just been opened, and all commerce with America’s heartland came through New Orleans, which was suddenly the third richest city in America. Music was everywhere. Chicago and New York each had an opera house; New Orleans had three. Businessmen were making fortunes and acquiring trophy wives who they then neglected. Morals were high, covering a deep base of licentiousness. A second-rate actor/manager from England decides to open a theatre, and casts his first play with locals. Correctly assessing the low level of American taste, the play he chooses is the raunchiest of all the restoration comedies, The Country Wife, written by William Wycherley. He is not prepared for the American response to this play. So come join us. It’s opening night, the first performance of any play in this theatre. It may well be the last."