Harry Connick Jr signs to perform, co-write ‘Sting’ musical at Paper Mill

Harry Connick Jr. (PHOTO: Music Theatre International)
Harry Connick Jr. (PHOTO: Music Theatre International)

Harry Connick Jr. will play Paul Newman in the world-premiere musical production of “The Sting” at the Paper Mill Playhouse (March 29-April 29). Once again, this Tony Award-winning theater is  serving as an out-of-town launch pad for Broadway.

Since the 2004-’05 season, Paper Mill has staged the world premiere of nine productions. Four moved to the Great White Way: NewsiesHoneymoon in VegasThe Bandstand and A Bronx Tale.  These two , “Harold and Maude” and “A Wonderful Life”   did not.

The Bodyguard (2016) made its U.S. premiere here and is on a list of Upcoming and Announced Broadway Shows compiled by Playbill.com and last updated Feb. 12,

Besides “The Sting” (March 29-April 29, 2018), the current season began with the world premiere of “The Honeymooners”  (Sept. 28–Oct. 29). Currently running through Sunday is the East Coast premieres of both the hysterical comedy “The Outsider” (Jan. 24-Feb. 18) and the musical “Half Time,” formerly called “Gotta Dance,” (May 31-July 1, 2018). 

Poster for "The Sting" musical at Paper Mill Playhouse.Playbill lists all but “The Sting” as “In the Works” for Broadway. But producers don’t hire these guys unless their sites are set higher:  book by Bob Martin, music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann & Greg Kotis with Harry Connick, Jr., who is playing Henry Gondorff.

The score will contain music by Scott Joplin, including “The Entertainer,” which made  the 1973 film on which the musical is based so iconic. So that’s a no brainer. Joplin is expected. Without it, failure is certain, right?  Here’s how composer Marvin Hamlisch, who did the arrangements of Joplin’s music for the movie, explains it. 

Connick made his Broadway acting debut in The Pajama Game in 2006 earning a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical, followed in 2011 by On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. He’s also  performed extended concert engagements on Broadway and wrote the music and lyrics for the musical “Thou Shalt Not” earning a Tony Award nomination for Best Original Score.

Kelli O'Hara, Harry Connick Jr. and company in "The Pajama Game." (PHOTO: Joan Marcus)
Kelli O’Hara, Harry Connick Jr. and company in “The Pajama Game.” (PHOTO: Joan Marcus)

 

THE STORY

Chicago. 1936. Get ready to enter a smoke-filled world of cons and capers, where nothing is what it seems and no one is who they appear to be. Based on the 1973 Academy Award-winning film, The Sting tells the tale of a pair of con men, small town grifter Johnny Hooker and big-time hustler Henry Gondorff (Harry Connick, Jr.), who plot to bring down the city’s most corrupt racketeer.  The Sting takes you back to an era where jazz reigns, the stakes are high, and the dice are always loaded.

The Sting will be produced on Broadway by The Araca Group, Matthew Gross Entertainment, and by Special Arrangement with Universal Theatrical Group.

Biographies

HARRY CONNICK, JR. (Henry Gondorff/Music and Lyrics) Showered with awards and recognition for his live and recorded musical performances, and for his achievements on screens large and small as well as the Broadway stage, Harry Connick, Jr. has exemplified excellence in every aspect of the entertainment world, earning several Grammy and Emmy Awards and Tony nominations.

The foundation of Connick’s art is the music of his native New Orleans, where he began performing as a pianist and vocalist at the age of five. His career took off when he signed with Columbia Records at 18 years old and revealed his stunning piano technique and vivid musical imagination on his self-titled debut album. To date, Connick has released 30 albums, highlighting his prodigious musical talents as a pianist, singer, songwriter, composer and orchestrator and garnering sales of over 28 million.

No stranger to the theater scene, Connick received Tony nominations for his performance as Sid Sorokin in The Pajama Game, which was hailed as “absolutely sensational” and “a Broadway debut of legendary proportions,” and for the music and lyrics he composed for Thou Shalt Not which was directed by Susan Stroman.  He last performed on Broadway in the revival of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever following the sold-out, critically acclaimed 2010 run of Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre.  His concerts at the Neil Simon marked the 20th anniversary of his sold-out concert series at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1990.

Connick has also made his mark as an actor in films (appearing in over 19 films such as “Dolphin Tale” with Morgan Freeman, “Hope Floats” with Sandra Bullock, “PS I Love You” with Hilary Swank, “Bug” with Ashley Judd, “Copycat” with Sigourney Weaver), and on television (“American Idol,” Will & Grace,” “South Pacific”).  In the Fall of 2016 Connick launched “HARRY,” a nationally syndicated daytime television show hosted by Connick and featuring his touring band.  “HARRY” reflects the unparalleled entertainment skills of Harry Connick, Jr.’s varied career and the television industry recognized the debut season of “HARRY” with five Emmy nominations, including a nomination for Best Host, and a Critics Choice nomination for Best Talk Show.

Despite his busy career, Connick has always found the time to be charitable and has done some of his most important work in his efforts to help New Orleans rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He, along with friend Branford Marsalis, conceived of “Musicians’ Village,” a community in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans.  Musicians’ Village provides homes for Katrina-displaced musicians and its focal point, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, is an after-school teaching facility for children, a performance hall and recording studio for musicians, and a gathering place for the community.

Connick’s honors, including the induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, Honorary Doctorates from Tulane and Loyola Universities and the Jefferson Award for Public Service, have not led Harry Connick, Jr. to slow his creative pace; they only confirm his determination to apply his talents in ways that prove inspirational to other artists and publicly spirited citizens

THE CREDITS IN DEPTH

BOB MARTIN (Book) has been working as an actor and writer in theatre, film and television for over 3 decades. He has received many awards in both Canada and the US, including a Tony for his work on the Broadway production of The Drowsy Chaperone. Recent TV projects includeSlings & Arrows I, II & III, (TMN, Sundance), Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays, Michael: Everyday (CBC), Sensitive Skin I & II (HBO), and Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (NBC). Recent theatre projects include The Prom (Atlanta), Gotta Dance (Chicago), Elf (Broadway, Dublin, London), Minsky’s (LA), The Drowsy Chaperone (Toronto, Broadway, London), Second City Toronto (Performer, Director, Artistic Director), and in development: Millions, Half Time, The Princess Bride.

 MARK HOLLMANN (Music and Lyrics) won the Tony Award, the National Broadway Theatre Award, and the Obie Award for his music and lyrics to Urinetown: The Musical, which itself won the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama League Award, and the Lucille Lotrel Award for Best Musical.  His other shows as composer/lyricist include ZM, Yeast Nation (The Triumph of Life)and Bigfoot and Other Lost Souls.  For TV, he has written songs for the Disney Channel’s “Johnny and the Sprites.”  He is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), serves on the council of the Dramatists Guild of America, and has served on the Tony Nominating Committee.

GREG KOTIS (Music and Lyrics) is the author of many plays and musicals including Urinetown (Book/Lyrics, for which he won an Obie Award and two Tony® Awards), Lunchtime, Give the People What They Want, Michael von Siebenburg Melts Through the Floorboards, Yeast Nation(Book/Lyrics), The Truth About Santa, Pig Farm, Eat the Taste, and Jobey and Katherine.  His work has been produced and developed in theaters across the country and around the world, including Actors Theatre of Louisville, American Conservatory Theater, American Theater Company, The Apollo (West End), The Brick, the Eugene O’Neill National Theater Conference, The Geva Center, Henry Miller’s Theatre (Broadway), Manhattan Theatre Club, New York Stage and Film, The Old Globe, Perseverance Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, Soho Rep, South Coast Rep, and The Saint James (Off West End), among others.  Greg is a member of ASCAP.

 JOHN RANDO (Director) Broadway credits include On the Town (Tony Nomination for Best Direction of a Musical), Penn & Teller on BroadwayA Christmas Story, The Wedding Singer, Urinetown (Tony and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Director), A Thousand Clowns and Neil Simon’s The Dinner Party. His recent Off-Broadway credits include Jerry Springer – The Opera (New Group), Lives of the Saints (Primary Stages), The Heir Apparent (2014 SDCF Calloway Award for Direction – Classic Stage Company), All in the Timing (Primary Stages – 2013 Obie Award for Direction), and The Toxic Avenger, among many others. Recent Regional Credits include The Honeymooners (Paper Mill Playhouse), Pirates of Penzance (Barrington Stage Company) and Big Sky (Geffen Playhouse). He directed the Encores! Productions of The New Yorkers, Annie Get Your GunLittle Me, Its a Bird… Its a Plane… Its Superman, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, On the Town, Damn Yankees, Face the Music, Strike Up the Band, Do Re Mi, The Pajama Game and Of Thee I Sing.  He also directed the staged performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel at the New York Philharmonic.

WARREN CARLYLE (Choreographer) Broadway: Directed and choreographed: After Midnight(Tony Award Best Choreography), Chaplin, Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, Finian’s Rainbow (Tony nomination), A Tale of Two Cities. Choreography: current Hello, Dolly!, She Loves Me, On the 20th Century, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, A Christmas Story, Follies. Directed and choreographed Radio City’s New York Spring Spectacular starring The Rockettes. TV/Film: Staged and choreographed 68th & 69th Annual Tony Awards (CBS), multiple seasonsSo You Think You Can Dance (FOX), Deception starring Hugh Jackman (20th Century Fox) and Carousel (PBS, Emmy nomination). Other: Two Outer Critics Circle Awards, Drama Desk Award, Astaire Award.

 

Paper Mill Playhouse announces 2017-18 season, which includes two potential Broadway transfers.
Paper Mill Playhouse announces 2017-18 season, which includes two potential Broadway transfers.
ABOUT PAPER MILL PLAYHOUSE

Not-for-profit theater under the direction of Mark S. Hoebee (Producing Artistic Director) and Todd Schmidt (Managing Director) and recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is where American musical theater is celebrated, cherished, and pushed in exciting new directions. A beloved New Jersey arts institution since 1938, Paper Mill has been consistently recognized for the high-quality artistry of its reimagined classic musicals as well as its commitment to supporting the development of new works and the careers of Broadway’s best talent and emerging artists both onstage and behind the scenes. Paper Mill Playhouse boasts award-winning access services and outreach initiatives as well as performer training programs that impact more than 35,000 students each year. Paper Mill Playhouse productions have launched national tours and gone on to Broadway—including Disney’s Newsies, 25th Anniversary production of Les Misérables, Honeymoon in Vegas, A Bronx Tale,Bandstand, The Bodyguard—as well as television broadcasts on Showtime and PBS and original cast recordings. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. For more information, please visit PaperMill.org.