Casting has been announced for the New York City debut of The Beautiful Lady by Tony-nominated composer Elizabeth Swados (Runaways). Composed by Swados in 1984, the musical will begin previews at Off-Broadway's La MaMa May 5 and open May 8. Performances are set through May 28 in the Ellen Stewart Theatre.
Starring in the Broadway alum-studded cast will be Tom Nelis (Indecent), Henry Stram (Titanic), Ashley Pérez Flanagan (Freestyle Love Supreme), Andrew Polec (Bat Out of Hell), Kate Fulgei (Spring Awakening), George Abud (The Visit), Starr Busby (Octet), Djore Nance, Paula Gaudier, Red Guhde, Jacob Louchheim, and Maya Sharpe.
Set in the historic Stray Dog café in St. Petersburg, Russia, The Beautiful Lady explores "the power of art and the delicate nature of free speech." The café was a popular meeting spot for poets, writers, performers, and other artists between 1911 and 1915. There they pushed the boundaries of art and language as part of a revolution that would eventually turn on them. The actors will portray real figures from the era.
The musical looks into the threats which existed on free speech then, and continue to exist now, and features provocative writing of the time including poetry by Anna Akhmatova, Alexander Blok, and Marina Tsvetaeva. The text has been translated into English by Paul Schmidt.
Anne Bogart will direct the production which features a score by Swados who earned five Tony nominations for Runaways in 1978. Jocelyn Clarke has adapted the book and Swados' longtime collaborator Kris Kukul has provided musical arrangements. Also serving on the creative team are music director Adrian Ries, scenic designer Andromache Chalfant, lighting designer Brian H. Scott, costume designer Gabriel Berry, and choreographer Miki Orihara.
The Beautiful Lady receives its debut New York City staging more than seven years after Swados' death. Swados was an associate of La MaMa's founder Ellen Stewart. La MaMa's Artistic Director Mia Yoo said, “Throughout her career, Liz came back to La MaMa time and again to develop new work. Like Ellen Stewart, she spent her life influencing and empowering young minds through her work teaching. Both she and Anne Bogart are change-makers, revolutionary voices whose work has transformed how we think about theatre.”