Be sure to read our exclusive interview with Jay Armstrong Johnson, an actor on the rise.
Sometimes Barrington Stage Company (BSC) ticket buyers plain luck out. First they “discovered” composer and musician Nikos Tsakalakos and now BSC is doing a full production of his fledgeling musical, Pool Boy on their Stage II. It was quietly given a test reading last summer and Berkshire musical buffs in the know gave it two thumbs up. It is now in rehearsal and begins previews July 13. Nikos has continued to work on it for the past year, writing new songs, and collaborating with lyricist Janet Allard on the book. Daniella Topol is directing. Shonn Wiley, currently appearing in Sweeney Todd as Anthony Hope, has been tapped for the choreography. The Assistant Director/Dance Captain is Nick Potenzieri.
The most exciting news of all, however, came today when the casting was revealed. It’s a wonderful lineup, with the all important role of the Pool Boy to be played by Jay Armstrong Johnson, fresh from Hair on Broadway. Locally, he appeared two seasons ago in Hairspray at the Weston, Vermont Playhouse.
If Nikos wanted a triple threat performer to play himself, he couldn’t have picked better. He is joined by the glorious Cortney Wolfson, and if there’s a pair to watch in this stellar musical cast, it’s them.
BSC’s Artistic Director Julianne Boyd is on a mission to bring new, younger audiences into the theatre.
The creators of this show are all youthful, in mind as well as age, and this could be the crossover musical that will bring in the college and twenty-something crowd by the busload. But they will have to fight off traditional theatre-goers for their tickets as those of us who got to see the last year’s reading and preview know this is probably going to be a keeper.
Here’s the scoop as I have been able to piece it together.
Barrington Stage Company’s Musical Theatre Lab, under the mentorship of Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist William Finn, kicks off its fifth season with the world premiere of Pool Boy, a splashy new musical with music and lyrics by Nikos Tsakalakos and book and lyrics by Janet Allard.
Directed by Daniella Topol, Pool Boy begins performances on Wednesday, July 13 at 7:30pm and has an Opening Night set for Wednesday, July 21 at 7:30pm at BSC’s Stage 2 space, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield.
The premiere engagement is scheduled to run through Sunday, August 8.
What happens when an aspiring songwriter spends his summer serving cocktails to the rich and famous? In hopes of catching a break, he hobnobs with the big shots and is seduced by L.A.’s glitz and a sexy older woman.
Love and chaos ensue in this rocking new musical set poolside at the Hotel Bel-Air, based on Nikos Tsakalakos’s experience as a pool boy there.
The cast features Jay Armstrong Johnson (Broadway: HAIR) as Nick, Sara Gettelfinger (most recently seen on tour as Cruella DeVille in 101 Dalmations; Broadway: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) as Mrs. Duval, Sorab Wadia (London: Jihad! The Musical) as the Sultan, Cortney Wolfson (Broadway: Les Miserables revival) as April, Cliff Bemis (Original cast: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas) as Mr. Lopes, John Hickok (Broadway: Little Women, AIDA, Parade) as Mr. Duval and Jon Norman Schneider (Off-Broadway: Pan Asian Rep, Public Theater) as Jack.
Pool Boy marks the first show collaboration between Allard and Tsakalakos, who previously penned the song “I Have a Lion,” which has been performed in Songs by Ridiculously Talented…, Late Nite with Niko and Songs of A Night Owl.
The production features scenic design by Brian Prather, costume design by Holly Cain, lighting design by Nicole Pearce, and sound design by Brad Berridge. Production Stage Manager is Michael Andrew Rodgers. Music direction is by Matt Castle and choreography by Shonn Wiley.
About the Creators
Niko Tsakalakos (Music and Lyrics) At BSC: Inaugurated Barrington Stage’s Late Night Series, August 2007, with Late Nite with Niko, an evening of original songs. World Premiere run of original revue, Songs of a Night Owl, August 2008. Contributed to the annual writer’s showcase, Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists…, in September 2007 and 2008, as well as at Joe’s Pub, November 2008. Produced and conceived Barrington Stage’s first Valentine’s Day Cabaret, Kiss This. Other credits: Co-composer of Duck for President and Other Stories, Theatreworks, August 2010. Appeared in 2009 ANT Fest at Ars Nova with Songs of a Night Owl. He is a Rutgers University graduate with a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis on creative writing and poetry. As drummer and lead vocalist, his band Saint Friday has played the Los Angeles circuit, including venues such as the Viper Room, the Roxy and the Troubadour. In Los Angeles, he spent two years at the Academy for New Musical Theatre. Two-time recipient of the UCLA Writing Lyrics that Succeed and Endure scholarship with Concord Records and Marty Panzer. May 2008, graduated with an MFA from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts as a composer-lyricist. He also worked poolside for three summers at the Hotel Bel-Air.
Janet Allard (Book and Lyrics) Janet is a playwright and bookwriter/lyricist. Recent Works include: Vrooommm! A NASComedy published by Samuel French, Incognito, Loyal and Untold Crimes of Insomniacs, published by Playscripts, Inc. Her musical The Unknown: A Silent Movie Musical (with Shane Rettig and Jean Randich) won a Jonathan Larson Award with P73 Productions and appeared at the New York Musical Theater Festival. Ms. Allard is the recipient of two Jerome Fellowships at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. Her work has been seen at The Guthrie Lab, The Kennedy Center, Mixed Blood, Playwrights Horizons, Yale Rep, The Yale Cabaret, The Women’s Project, Perseverance Theatre, Joe’s Pub, with P73 Productions, and Internationally in Ireland, England, Greece, Australia and New Zealand. She is a Fulbright Fellow, has an M.F.A in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, has studied at the NYU Musical Theatre Writing program with William Finn and written songs Niko Tsakalakos has performed in Barrington’s cabarets as well as Joes Pub and Ars Nova. She currently teaches playwriting at University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Performances of Pool Boy are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 7:30pm at BSC Stage 2, 36 Linden St., Pittsfield. Opening Night: Wed., July 21 at 7:30pm. Tickets: $15-$45. Seniors: $20 all matinees. Pay What You Can Night for 35 year olds and younger: Fri., July 16 at 7:30pm. Post-show discussions with the cast will be held following the Thursday, July 15 and Thursday, August 5 performances. For ticket information call 413-236-8888, stop by the BSC Box Office at 30 Union Street or visit www.barringtonstageco.org. While of interest to any dating teen, please note that Pool Boy contains adult situations and strong language.
About the Musical Theatre Lab
Celebrating its 5th year, BSC’s Musical Theatre Lab, overseen by Tony Award-winning composer/lyricist William Finn, is a place for young musical theatre writers to develop their work on all levels: from staged readings to workshops to full productions. Since its creation, five world premieres and four workshops have been produced. The critically-acclaimed The Burnt Part Boys (2006), written by Nathan Tysen, Chris Miller and Marianne Elder, received a production at Playwrights Horizons in May/June 2010. Kirsten Childs, who wrote the 2007 world premiere Funked Up Fairy Tales, continued developing her musical at the Sundance Institute in December 2007. And Barry Wyner’s 2007 hit musical Calvin Berger recently received critical acclaim at the George Street Playhouse, and an Off-Broadway production is planned. In 2008 The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Joe Calarco (book), Nathan Tysen (lyrics) and Chris Miller (music) received a full production (after a 2007 MTL workshop) and was chosen one of the Top 10 year-end shows by both The Boston Globe and The Berkshire Eagle. See Rock City and Other Destinations by Adam Mathias and Brad Alexander was also produced in 2008 and won a Top 10 nod from Metroland, and will receive its NYC premiere at The Transport Group this summer.