The producers of the upcoming Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow recently announced some initial casting for the show. The lovely and talented Kate Baldwin will reprise the role of Sharon, which she played in the recent Encores concert version. Also returning as the eponymous Finian will be the delightful Jim Norton, Tony winner for The Seafarer. Warren Carlyle, who directed and choreographed the Encores production, will repeat those duties for Broadway.
As for those who won't be returning, the delicious Cheyenne Jackson will likely not be a part of the Broadway Finian's Rainbow cast, owing to a conflicting engagement, which rumor has it will be in London. No announcement yet about who will be taking Jackson's place. Also out is the wonderful Jeremy Bobb as Og, apparently because the Burton Lane estate thought he was too cute for the role. (How's that for a left-handed compliment?) Taking his place as Og will be Christopher Fitzgerald. (I guess he's just cute enough.) Tony winner Chuck Cooper (The Life) will also join the cast in the role of Billboard.
In my review of the Encores version, I said that I was enchanted by the the Burton Lane and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg score, but nonplussed by book, adapted there by David Ives. But I've subsequently read through Harburg's original and Peter Stone's revised versions of the libretto, and found a lot more merit in the show than the Encores presentation reflected. As to whether it will be commercially viable, I have serious doubts. As I said in my review:
It's one thing to wow the "in" crowd at City Center. It's another thing entirely to attract enough of the general public to make a Broadway run profitable. Heck, if frickin' Gypsy with frickin' Patti LuPone can't manage more than 332 performances, what makes producers think that Finian's Rainbow is going to lure the crowds in?
On the plus side, I really like the new logo, pictured above. The image is vibrant and welcoming, and conveys the sense of a classic story with a fresh, modern sensibility. Hopefully, so will the show.
UPDATE: Despite recent reports to the contrary, Variety writes today that Cheyenne Jackson will indeed reprise the role of Woody when Finian's Rainbow hits Broadway this coming season. I had heard that Jackson had a conflicting engagement in London, but it appears that either that gig fell trough, or the producers of Finian's Rainbow were able to entice him away. Either way, it's good news for the show: more than just a pretty face, Jackson is also a terrific performer, and made for a charming foil to Baldwin's winsome Sharon. I would have seen the show again anyway, but this makes the prospect that much more pleasurable.