A cast of Broadway veterans will converge on a small Kansas town today (April 13) to perform a new musical comedy by Sheldon Harnick, co-creator of "Fiddler on the Roof."
Tony-winning actress and singer Cady Huffman ("The Producers"); Burke Moses, the original Gaston of "Beauty and Beast;" and actor, singer, and top-selling author Anthony Rapp ("Rent"); and John Schuck ("M*A*S*H, " "MacMillan & Wife," "The Munsters," "Annie") are among four of the multi-talented performers of the new musical comedy "A Doctor in Spite of Himself."
It takes place as the opening of the 30th Annual William Inge Theatre Festival, in Independence, Kansas, which runs April 13-16. The book, lyrics and music of "A Doctor in Spite of Himself" are by Sheldon Harnick, of "Fiddler on the Roof" fame, who will also be at the Inge Festival for this preview performance.
Tickets are now on sale at www.ingefestival.org or at (620) 332-5491.
"A Doctor in Spite of Himself" performs Wednesday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the William Inge Theatre at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas.
Further cast members include: Alan Safier (national tour of "Goodnight, Gracie"); Patrick Richwood (Helen Hayes Award for "The Foreigner"); Elena Shaddow, (currently on Broadway as Anne in "La Cage Aux Folles," "The Woman in White"). Kansas City-based actress Cynthia Hyer, and local performer Dean Hayse is also featured.
"Most Broadway shows would be thrilled to have an ensemble cast as good as this," said Peter Ellenstein, Inge Center Artistic Director. "It is a great privilege and joy to host these fine artists and to help Sheldon Harnick continue to develop this exciting show. Independence is fast becoming a premiere showcase for America's great playwrights."
Director David Glenn Armstrong has helmed 150-plus productions across the nation, including work at The Public, Goodspeed, Walnut Street, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Library of Congress, among many more. Musical director is Paul Baker, of Los Angeles.
With book, music and lyrics by Harnick, the musical is adapted from the Moliere play "The Doctor in Spite of Himself." It is a terrifically funny and warmly charming mixture of mistaken identity, satire and musical comedy.
The story involves a woodcutter who is manipulated by his spiteful wife into masquerading as a physician. A wealthy man summons the woodcutter to treat his daughter, who is victim of a curiously sudden and mysterious ailment.
Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist and Tony winner Marsha Norman is the Inge Center's Honoree Playwright this 30th year of the Inge Festival and will be present all four. During a star-studded multi-media Tribute to Norman, "Traveler in the Light", on Saturday April 16, she will accept the Inge Festival's Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award.
Norman will join the elite list of previously honored playwrights who have traveled to Independence to accept this honor, including Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Wendy Wasserstein, Stephen Sondheim, Neil Simon, and Edward Albee.
She received a 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play " 'Night, Mother," which was made into a movie starring Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft.
Norman was also presented with a Tony Award for "Best Book for a Musical" and a Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Book of a Musical" for "The Secret Garden," for which she wrote the book and lyrics that captured the magic of the famous children's novel.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.ingecenter.org, or by phone at (800) 842-6063 ext. 5491 weekdays 1-5 p.m. In person, tickets are available at the Inge Center office at the Fine Arts Building, Room 123, at Independence Community College, 1057 W. College Ave., 1-5 p.m. weekdays. The box office mailing address is The William Inge Center for the Arts, PO Box 708, Independence, Kansas, 67301.