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Julia Murney will be the next artist to perform as part of the monthly Broadway Spotlight Series at off-Broadway's Ars Nova Theater. The actress will appear in the intimate concert series, which is produced by Ars Nova and sponsored by, on November 4 at 8pm.

Murney is best known for her Drama Desk-nominated turn in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party. She also appeared off-Broadway in A Class Act, Time and Again and Crimes of the Heart. Murney was expected to make her Broadway debut this season in Dance of the Vampires, but backed out of the production before rehearsals began.

"I'm very excited and very nervous for the show," Murney told "I've never done anything like this before! I hope I don't vomit," she joked. The diva added that she will perform a number cut from The Wild Party as well as her own renditions of some pop favorites.

Shoshana Bean, Matt Bogart, Felicia Finley, Chad Kimball, Idina Menzel, Meredith Patterson, Anthony Rapp and Michael Winther previously appeared as part of the Broadway Spotlight Series. The series brings stars of the Great White Way to the intimate 99-seat Ars Nova space, lighting up dark nights on the first Monday of every month. Gordon Greenberg is the artistic director of the series. Among those artists scheduled to perform in the future are Billy Porter on December 2 and Lauren Kennedy on January 6. Tickets are $12. Reservations can be made by calling (212) 977-1700. Ars Nova Theater is located at 511 West 54th Street.
-info from


La Chanze, Spencer Kayden and JULIA MURNEY are the three latest Fanny Brices to take part in the Sept. 23 star studded concert presentation of Funny Girl to benefit The Actors' Fund of America.

The evening — the second annual concert production to benefit the organization — will present nearly two dozen actresses who will share the lead role of Fanny Brice. As of press time, Fannys will include Carolee Carmello, Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole, Sutton Foster, Ana Gasteyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski, Ricki Lake, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, Bebe Neuwirth, Lillias White and Marissa Jaret Winokur.

Former Noises Off star Peter Gallagher will portray Nick Arnstein, and the ensemble will include John Paul Almon, Gary Beach, Mary Birdsong, John Bolton, Steven Brinberg, Bill Burns, Paul Castree, Jason Danieley, Aisha DeHaas, Edie, Robert Fowler, Laurie Gamache, Diedre Goodwin, Peter Gregus, Julie Halston, Shannon Hammons, Jamie Harris, Sam Harris, Stacey Todd Holt, Mary Ann Hu, Damian Keenan, Richard Kind, Sara Lepere, Kate Coffman Lloyd, David Mckeown, Varla Jean Merman, Brad Musgrove, Brad Oscar, Jessica Perrizo, Michelle Potterf, Keenah Reid, Jermaine Rembert, Rusty Reynolds, Ric Ryder, Jenny Sandler, Michael Serapiglia, Liz Smith, Alan Souza, Eileen Tepper, Gay Willis and Kristine Zbornik, as well as Kaye Ballard, Len Cariou, Marcia Lewis and John Scherer.

Featuring music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill and a book by Isobel Lennart, the concert will be helmed by Peter Flynn, whose New York directorial credits include Purple Hearts at the McGinn-Cazale Theatre, Up in the Air for Playwrights Horizons and A Wedding Album at the Lamb's. Flynn has also directed at regional theatres throughout the country and is currently working on his own new musical, Lily, with composer-lyricist Brooks Ashmanskas. He also staged a New York reading of the Horatio Alger musical, Shine.

Seth Rudetsky, who was responsible for the first Actors' Fund concert, Dreamgirls: The 20th Anniversary Concert, will be the musical director for Funny Girl, which will also feature choreography by Davanand Janki and Robert Tatad. Janki choreographed Amahl & the Night Visitors and Babes in Toyland, both for Lincoln Center, and has helped mount Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' annual Broadway Bares shows for the past seven seasons. As a performer, Janki starred on Broadway in Side Show, Miss Saigon, Cats and The King and I. Tatad, who served as an associate director for last year's Dreamgirls benefit, was most recently a choreographer and creative associate for Broadway Bares: A Comic Strip.

The remainder of the creative team includes Rob Bissinger (set designer), Martin Vreeland (lighting designer), Cynthia J. Hawkins (sound designer), Jeff Johnson Doherty (costume designer), MAC Cosmetics (make-up consultants), Lisa Iacucci (production stage manager). Tim Pinckney has adapted the musical for the concert.

The Styne-Merrill-Lennart musical, which celebrated the life of the late Fanny Brice, made a star of Barbra Streisand, who would reprise her role on film to Oscar winning effect. Funny Girl will be presented at 7:30 PM at the New Amsterdam Theatre (214 W. 42nd Street). Tickets priced at $75, $100 and $250 are already sold out, although those priced between $500 and $2,500 are still available. To purchase seats, call The Actors' Fund at (212) 221 7300. Further details are available by calling The Actors' Fund or by visiting

—By Robert Simonson

Musical theatre's JULIA MURNEY (The Wild Party), Chad Kimball (Into the Woods) and Heather MacRae (Falsettos) will give their singing pipes a break Aug. 19, and take a dramatic turn in a reading of William Inge's Come Back, Little Sheba. The evening, held at the Lark Studio Theatre, will benefit the Transport Group.

Lola and "Doc" Delaney have managed their marriage into their middle-age. But Doc's alcoholism and the arrival of a young college girl signal the destruction of the Delaney's uneasy peace. Come Back, Little Sheba was made into a 1952 film starring Burt Lancaster and Shirley Booth (repeating her Broadway performance). Booth won an Academy Award as Lola.

Joining Murney, Kimball and McRae are Megan McGinnis (Parade), Jim Madden, Jim Hindman (A Man of No Importance), John Wellman and John Cariani. Lynne Shankel will perform original and period music with vocals sung by Tony nominee Barbara Walsh (Falsettos).

The Transport Group, founded in 2001 by Jack Cummings III, will hold a second benefit Oct. 28 at the Culture Project at 45 Bleecker. Entitled Gimme a Break, the cabaret evening features Broadway performers singing the songs that gave them their first break. All this fete-ing will lead to the second Transport Group show, Requiem for William, beginning performances Feb. 1, 2003. Michael John LaChiusa (The Wild Party, Marie Christine) is among the composers who will take one of seven rare Inge one-acts and transform them into mini-musicals for Requiem.

Tickets to Come Back, Little Sheba are $30. The Lark Studio Theatre is located at 939 8th Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets. For reservations, call (212) 560-4372.

— By Christine Ehren of

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center has lined up a number of stars, including Chris Noth (Gore Vidal's The Best Man), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent, Rocky Horror) and Julia Murney (the upcoming Dance of the Vampires), to perform new plays at their Waterford, CT venue.

Noth — perhaps best known as Mr. Big on HBO's "Sex and the City" — will do a script in-hand performance of Romulus Linney's Klonsky and Schwartz opposite Mark Blum. The play in which a poet helps his writer friend on a hot New York summer day in 1966 will run July 11-12 at the Barn. Harris Yulin directs.

Vega and Murney will co-star in a new musical, The Ballad of Billy K: The Tall Tale Adventures of the Crazy K Kid, July 16-17 at the Amphitheatre. The tuner about a singing cowgirl is by Katherine Griffith, with music by Phill George and lyrics by Griffith and George. It also features Michael Mulhern, Paula Pizzi, Richard Riehle and C.J. Wilson. Liz Diamond directs.

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center was founded in 1964 and based in Waterford, CT. Programs at the Center include the Puppetry Conference, Playwrights Conference, Critics Institute, Music Theater Conference and the National Theater Institute. The Monte Cristo Cottage, O'Neill's childhood home, is also owned and operated by the group.

For tickets to events at the O’Neill Theater Center, call the box office at (860) 443-1238. For more information, visit their website at

— by Ernio Hernandez of


Bit by bit, the cast of the upcoming Broadway musical Dance of the Vampires is coming together.

Actress JULIA MURNEY and actor Asa Somers are the most recent additions to the cast that includes Michael Crawford, Rene Auberjonois, Max von Essen and Mandy Gonzalez. The show is set to begin previews at the Minskoff Theatre Oct. 14 and open Nov. 21.

Murney was seen last in Off-Broadway's Crimes of the Heart at Second Stage. She is also known for her stage roles in A Class Act, Time and Again and Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party. Murney will play the role of Magda, described in a casting notice as "busty lusty."

Somers is no stranger to the macabre as he made his Broadway debut in The Rocky Horror Show as a Phantom and the understudy to the Narrator. He was also the last Hedwig in the original Off-Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Somers will play Count Von Krolock's "gay vampire son" Herbert.

Dance director John Rando told Playbill On-Line the show was a "funny scare where you could have a really good time and yet you are spooked." He added that the Broadway production will be "different than it is in Germany. I think the biggest difference is that, in Germany, it's a sung-through piece without any spoken word or just very few. Here in New York, it's going to be a book musical. We've also done a lot of changes in the construction of the play. Jim Steinman has also changed the music in many places."

"If you think Broadway musicals suck now — just you wait..." That tagline ends the online preview of the upcoming Broadway musical spoof with music and lyrics by Jim Steinman (Whistle Down the Wind, the upcoming Batman). The tuner will be helmed by Tony Award winning Urinetown director John Rando. The project will reteam the helmer with choreographer John Carrafa (Urinetown, Into The Woods).

The creative team behind Dance of the Vampires includes David Gallo (scenic design), Ann Hould-Ward (costume design), Richard Ryan (sound), Ken Billington (lighting design), David Lawrence (hair and wigs) and Angelina Avallone (make-up). Musical director will be Patrick Vacariello, orchestrator Steve Margoshes and musical supervision is by Michael Reed. The Broadway run is being produced by David Sonenberg, Andrew Braunsberg, Bob Boyett, USA Ostar Theatricals and Lawrence Horowitz.

As confirmed by a Barlow-Hartman spokesperson — before the cast was even set — the original cast recording of Dance of the Vampires will be released by Interscope Records.

Dance of the Vampires, an adaptation of Polanski's 1967 film horror spoof, "The Fearless Vampire Killers" (which was originally titled "Dance with the Vampires"), is set "in a Transylvanian graveyard near a village with an unpronounceable name. It is three nights before Halloween, 1880-something," as quoted from the official Jim Steinman website ( The story follows a professor-vampire killer and his dim assistant in their struggle to save an inn keeper's daughter from becoming "Queen of the Vampires."

The original German Tanz Der Vampire featured book and lyrics by Michael Kunze which were further adapted for the Broadway version by comedic playwright David Ives. The former has translated numerous Broadway musicals into German, as well as penning the book and lyrics for the European tuners Elisabeth and Mozart!. The latter, author of All in the Timing, The Red Address and the upcoming Rando-helmed Polish Joke, is also working on Batman with Steinman.

Dance of the Vampires — under the direction of Polanski and produced by the Stella Company — premiered October 1997 at Vienna's 1,215 seat Raimund Theatre and ran through January 2000. Budgeted at $7 million (U.S.), the show won six German IMAGE Awards the following year, including Best Musical, Best Music, Best Book, Best Actor, and Best Featured Actor and Actress.

Back in October 1997, Austrian producer Andrew Braunsberg told the New York Times he was hoping to bring the spoofy tuner to Broadway the following season. That never happened, in part because the show's director, Roman Polanski, fled the U.S. in 1977 rather than stand trial on a statutory rape charge (a charge that he has, from the start, denied). Little changed on that score, though media sources reported that Hollywood notables and executives were working behind the scenes to convince the Los Angeles District Attorney's office to allow Polanski back into the U.S. Braunsberg told the Daily News in February 2000 that would allow him to bring Dance of the Vampires to Broadway by the end of that year, with Polanski to direct.

For more information on Dance of the Vampires, visit the show's website at

— by Ernio Hernandez and David Lefkowitz of


KRISTEN CHENOWETH will romp and roll in an private New York City reading of the sexy and buoyant musical comedy, Fanny Hill, Dec. 20. The bawdy musical by librettist-composer-lyricist Ed Dixon, inspired by a naughty yarn from the 1700s, was written with Chenoweth in mind, and had a sold-out developmental staging at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre in summer 1999, but without the actress. The new readings are to test new material and engage further industry interest.

Robert Johanson of Paper Mill directs. Producers are Pete Herber, attached to the material from the start, and Ken Gentry & Kary Walker of NETworks. The reading cast also includes Mary Stout (Jane Eyre), DIVA JULIA MURNEY (Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party) and Paul Schoeffler (Peter Pan). The Fanny Hill company numbered 10 for Goodspeed, and will be 14 for the reading.

"People ask me to describe the show," Herber previously told Playbill On-Line. "I say it's like a cross between Candide and 'The Carol Burnett Show.'" The comic romp is based on John Cleland's notorious 18th century novel about a woman's journey from innocence to prostitution. But writer Dixon said his version is all in fun. The thing is written and directed in a "lightning-fast" style, said Herber. "It's the first dirty book of any note," Dixon previously said of the 1749 novel. "It's the first [such] book to reach a literary status."

Dixon, who wrote book, music and lyrics, said the novel is "absolutely humorless," but filled with graphic sexual adventures. He chose to present Fanny's journey — and the sexcapades — with humor rather than nudity or crudeness, creating a rapid-fire romp.

The book had been on Dixon's shelf for many years, but he resisted it as a musical possibility because it was so raunchy. "I'm always looking in the classics for things that can be adapted," Dixon told Playbill On-Line. "But it's so graphic that I shunted it aside." But he revisited the book when he decided he wanted to do a sexy, romantic show, and Tom Jones and Casanova seemed too unwieldy and required too large a cast. I suddenly saw 'Fanny Hill, which had been on my shelf," he said. "I don't think anyone's noticed the plot before. The plot's fantastic!"

After her parents die, Fanny goes to London where she falls in with a madam, unknowingly begins a life of ill repute, meets her true love and then loses him and becomes the most famous woman of pleasure in London. "It's my intention that the piece not be vulgar at all," said Dixon. "[Although] it deals with a crossdressing countess and a masochist and lisping priest..." The musical, which he calls a freely adapted version of the book, "goes about a thousand miles an hour, the plot happens so quickly you have to keep up." Dixon describes the music as "very romantic" and not through composed. "My bent is slightly operatic and through-composed, but in this case I wanted something more commercial: A musical with songs and book," he said.

Dixon studied voice at Manhattan School of Music and has worked steadily for years as an actor in both musical and non musical roles. He was most recently in Broadway's The Iceman Cometh, as Piet Wetjoen, but he left the run early to nurture Fanny Hill in Connecticut. Dixon, 52, also has on his resume a long stint as Thernardier on Broadway in Les Miserables, Cardinal Richelieux in The Three Musketeers and Ozzy in The Scarlet Pimpernel (all on Broadway). On tour he was Max in Sunset Boulevard (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination), and Charles in Pippin.

Observers of Fanny Hill say that a production in London would make sense since the landscape of the show is England, and the attitudes about sex are so free and seem so obviously European.

Fanny Hill had a reading at Manhattan Theatre Club in November 1998. Lynette Perry (Ragtime) played the title role.

Blessed with a shimmering soprano and a wicked belt, CHENOWETH is the Tony Award-winning actress who made a splash in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and was seen in Steel Pier and a handful of Encores! concerts at City Center. She starred in the Broadway comedy, Epic Proportions. She was recently announced to be Marian the Librarian in an upcoming TV version of "The Music Man," opposite Matthew Broderick. A TV series, "Kristin," failed to catch fire on NBC earlier this year, prompting colleagues and critics to firmly state that she is a creature of the stage, particularly of the musical theatre.

JULIA MURNEY is no stranger either, with her impressive resume, and only having been exposed nearly 2 years ago. Credits include: Andrew Lippa's Wild Party, A Class Act, and Crimes of Passion.

— By Kenneth Jones from

Lauded performers JULIA MURNEY and PATRICK WILSON were among the theatrical luminaries out to support Make Believe,

a charity that brings a troupe of actors into hospitals where they entertain sick children, leaving them with a trunk full of costumes and goodies after the show has ended.



The cult rock musical Chess will have another concert airing in the New York area, this time reassembling two of the leads from the 1998 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS set at Off-Broadway's John Houseman Theatre. ROB EVAN (Jekyll & Hyde) again assays the good-guy Russian chess champion with BRIAN D'ARCY JAMES (The Sweet Smell of Success, Titanic, and Lippa's Wild Party) as his American rival in chess and love, this time at Nyack's Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center.
Joining them will be TERENCE MANN (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Les Miserables) as the Russian's handler Molokov, JULIA MURNEY (A Class Act, The Wild Party) as the Russian's wife Svetlana, Lauren Kennedy (Side Show and the upcoming West End revival of South Pacific) as the American's girlfriend and chess-playing "second" Florence and DANNY ZOLI (Jesus Christ Superstar) as the Arbiter.
The Scarlet Pimpernel and Into the Woods actor Philip Hoffman directs. Musical direction is by composer Neil Berg (The Prince and the Pauper, Tim: A New Musical).
After success in London, Chess, a Cold-War story of love and betrayal set against a Russian versus American chess match, opened on Broadway at the Imperial on April 28, 1988. It closed June 25 that same year after trouble between its director Trevor Nunn and lyricist Rice and critical pans. Subsequent revivals and concert versions have been done since, often changing the plotting, cutting parts of the book, rearranging and reassigning the songs. Since its first incarnation as a "concept album" in 1984, Chess has obtained cult status, rivaling perhaps only Carrie in obsessive fans.
Chess includes the one-time pop hit "One Night in Bangkok," "Heaven Help My Heart, "I Know Him So Well," "Pity the Child" and "Anthem."
Tickets to the Nyack concerts are $30-$45. The Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center is located at 117 Main Street in Nyack. For reservations, call (845) 358-6333.
-By Christine Ehren
Info from

Ex WILD PARTY -goer JULIA MURNEY joins the Cast of CRIMES OF THE HEART at Second Stage. She will play Chick Boyle. The Show begins April 3rd. Murney just recently recorded CLASS ACT, with fellow DIVA CAROLEE CARMELLO (PARADE), RANDY GRAFF (LES MISERABLES) and a host of other talented performers. The Cd is now availbale. But she is best known for her Sizzling portrayal of the BELTING Queenie, in the Off Broadway Production of ANDREW LIPPA'S: THE WILD PARTY. Go and cheer on this new and rising DIVA!

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