Empire to have a private workshop in New York in Sep

It is reported that the new musical Empire, by Caroline Sherman and Bobby Hull, is to have a private workshop in New York on 14 & 15 Sep 2009.

The presentation will be directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Joey McKneely (The Life, Smokey Joe's Cafe) and feature Nick Wyman, Nancy Anderson and Kevyn Morrow.

Empire is an original musical about those who bravely embodied the American spirit during the dark days of the Great Depression by building what was then the tallest structure in the world, the Empire State Building. When the roaring 20's collapsed into the reeling 30's, these industrialists, laborers and their families mortgaged all that was safe and reasonable for the dream of leaving their mark on New York City and the world.

Caroline Sherman and Bobby Hull wrote the book, music and lyrics for their original musical Empire in 1999/2000, since then the pair have been re-working the material.

The show had two workshops in May 2001, the first in Los Angeles and the next in New York. It then went on to a full production at the 99 seater Hudson Backstage Theatre in Hollywood, CA. That production won a LA Theatre Ovation Award for Best Choreography, and was nominated for two more, including 'Best New Musical.'

Empire received a full production at the Stamford Center For The Arts in 2004, following an earlier stage reading at Stamford that year. Directed by Clayton Phillips and choreographed by Michele Lynch, with additional choreography by Sergio Trujillo, the musical received mixed reviews.

Variety said of that production, "Buildings don't sing. So a musical about epic endeavors of structural engineering had better have a good script, music and execution, something Empire lacks in every department."

However, other reviews were more friendly "a great night at the theater and a chance to see something new and refreshing with nods to those big musicals we know and love" wrote the Stamford Times, "Empire is the musical that, will, we hope, be around as long as its namesake" (The Scarsdale Inquirer).

Empire has since received three further readings, one in Manhattan for producers and friends held at Theater Row's Studio (Mar 2005) and two industry readings (Apr 2008) produced by Ricky Stevens and John O'Boyle.

Producer Ricky Stevens has previously said Empire would bow on Broadway this season, but now says the show will play London's West End in spring 2010 as interest in the musical has been expressed there. Following that production the musical will then aim to arrive on the Great White Way. No dates have been announced for these planned productions.

Originally published on

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