What do you do when the leading man of a world premiere musical suffers an injury less than 48 hours before the first preview? For Bucks County Playhouse, the answer was simple: Call Justin Guarini.
A member of the Playhouse Artists Board of Directors, the non-profit board that supports the Playhouse, Guarini was already a Playhouse MVP. He had previously appeared on the Bucks County Playhouse stage in the new musical “Cake Off” as well as in the its acclaimed production of “Company.” When help was needed to open the world premiere production of the musical comedy, “The New World,” Playhouse Producing Director Alexander Fraser knew exactly who to call.
So with less than two days’ notice, Guarini immersed himself in learning the role and slipped seamlessly into the first preview performance. The initial plan was for Guarini to help open the show, but last week he was asked by the producers and creative team to complete the run to allow the original leading man, Julius Thomas III, time to fully heal. “The New World” will continue at Bucks County Playhouse through December 2.
“What a tremendous stroke of luck that Justin was available to help us launch The New World,” says Fraser. “When we needed someone to step in, Justin did so brilliantly. He handled the process so smoothly and effortlessly that it immediately put the entire cast and creative team at ease.”
“This has been one of the most exciting and challenging two weeks in my career,” says Guarini. “Learning the book, music, choreography, and blocking for an entire new musical in two days then putting it on its feet in front of an audience was something I didn’t believe was possible. I thank the outstanding creative team and cast for welcoming me and helping me make the impossible, possible.”
“The New World”, which received its first reading at the Playhouse’s Oscar Hammerstein Festival in 2014, is produced by Robyn Goodman, Alexander Fraser, Stephen Kocis and Josh Fiedler. The book is by Regina DeCicco and L.F. Turner, music by Gary Adler (“Altar Boyz”) and lyrics by Phoebe Kreutz. Stafford Arima (Broadway’s “Allegiance” and newly appointed Artistic Director of Theater Calgary) directs with choreography by Bucks County Playhouse Artistic Associate Lorin Latarro (“Waitress”).
This musical comedy reimagines the myth of the first meeting of the Pilgrims and Native Americans. The year is 1620. The Native Americans are enjoying a gluten free, low carb, artisanally happy life when they are invaded by the nation’s first immigrants — Pilgrims! There goes the neighborhood, but in the tradition of all musical comedies, love wins! Cast photo by Joan Marcus
The critics are raving.
- John Timpane, The Philadelphia Inquirer:
“With sneaky brilliance, beginning to end, The New World is fresh, funny, and fluid.”
- John Dwyer, The New Hope Free Press:
“Timely and smart… top-notch musical theater, exhilarating from beginning to end.”
- Neal Zoren, U.S. 1 Newspaper:
“A comic gem, flippant and irreverent in the right places and warm where it counts. The most
deft new work I’ve seen in ages. And another excellent turn by Justin Guarini, the Tom Hanks of
stage musicals. Miss it, and miss a hundred good laughs.”
- Jean Brenner, The Bucks County Herald:
“Mark my words, The New World is headed to Broadway: it’s special, it’s funny, it’s delightfully
Guarini joins a cast that includes a mix of Broadway veterans and newcomers led by Ann Harada (“Avenue Q” and “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella”) as Chief Hyannis, Jillian Gottlieb (Theater Under the Stars “Into the Woods” and “The Golden Bride” Off-Broadway) as Susanna Standish and Jennifer Perry (Broadway’s “Kinky Boots” and “Mamma Mia!”) as Joan. The cast also features Ginna Le Vine (“Picnic” Off-Broadway). Le Vine is the grand-niece of Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly, who made her professional stage debut in 1949 at Bucks County Playhouse, where she was a member of its famed apprentice program. She is joined by Clyde Alves (Broadway’s “On the Town,” “Bullets Over Broadway”) as Tago, Eddie Cooper (Encores “Assassins” and “Little Shop of Horrors”) as Miles Standish, Ann Sanders (Disney’s “Frozen” and Broadway’s “The King and I”) as Mrs. Corn, Rod Singleton (Ogunquit Playhouse’s “Ragtime”) as Colonel Corn and Tyler Maynard (Broadway’s “The Little Mermaid” and “Altar Boyz” Off-Broadway) as Carl. Adena Ershow, Yael Rizo wy, Kiet Tai Cao, Danny Bevins, Brandon Weber and Annelise Cepero round out the ensemble.
Bucks County Playhouse Artistic Associate Anna Louizos (Broadway’s “School of Rock” and BCP’s “Guys and Dolls”) is Scenic Designer. Jen Caprio is Costume Designer and J. Jared Janas is Wig, Hair and Makeup Designer. Kirk Bookman is lighting designer and Joshua D. Reid is sound designer. Musical Director is Paul Masse. Orchestrations are by Danny Troob with dance arrangements are by Sam Davis. Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting.
“The New World” is the third of four world premiere productions presented at Bucks County Playhouse this year. The summer season launched in May with the debut of “Clue: On Stage,” and “Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story.” The year will end with a new comedy by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen, “Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big Playhouse Christmas Show,” which resets Dickens’ classic tale “A Christmas Carol” in New Hope.
Tickets to “The New World” range from $40 – $75. Special rates for groups of 10 or more. For complete details, and to purchase tickets, please visit buckscountyplayhouse.org, call 215-862-2121, or visit the box office at 70 South Main Street, New Hope, PA.