The New York Musical Theatre Festival and the Chaplin Corporation are presenting a play about Chaplin called 'Behind the Limelight'. The six performances start September 19th and end September 30th. Actress, Brooke Sunny Moriber will play the part of Edna Purviance. This play premiered in the summer of 2005. I have not heard any news about it, so something of interest for fans in the New York area.
Update Sept 21th: Here is a review on this play from theatermania.com
Link to the BEHIND THE LIMELIGHT official website.
July 21, 2005 - Playbill article
Vassar article on Limelight
Also, someone sent a couple more reviews you can see in comments.
MORE INFORMATION: The lyrics to the Limelight theme 'Eternally' and more...
UPDATE: Because of a related internet question I will place a short answer here - Edna Purviance was never in Limelight. Check this link for more.
chaplin musical review from theater .com
The second show I saw was the opening night of Behind the Limelight a bio about the life and times of Charlie Chaplin. This was the most polished and wonderfully orchestrated show I saw. The story was told in a very moving and clever fashion. The final moment in which the old Charlie tips his hat to the audience the audience was a memorable theatrical moment. It was breathtaking. The pre show announcement informed the audience that the writer was still working on the script up to an hour ago. The amazing Luther Creek, who was the first Roger in the Canadian Company of Rent and amazing, played Charlie for most of the show. He is thrilling despite having to carry a script around to remember all the changes. He oozes intensity and passion on the stage. I think his final performance with full confidence will be outstanding. The adored Andrea McArdle also has a great turn as the overly ambitious reporter trying to dig up the dirt that exiles Chaplin from America. The music was thrilling and a sequence in which Charlie takes on his persona with costume and physicality was stage brilliance. The moment received a wild round of applause. There is still work to be done on the book as well, but I do see this show arriving on Broadway in the near future.
BACKSTAGE MAGAZINE REVIEW
BEHIND THE LIMELIGHT
The New York Musical Theatre Festival at the Theatre at St. Clement’s
Behind the Limelight—with book, music, and lyrics all by Christopher Curtis—is just about a perfect template for a Broadway
musical circa the 1960s, and that’s meant as a compliment. It celebrates without irony a mythic personality—in this case,
Charlie Chaplin—with a script that deftly sketches characters and events and an ample, melodious score that helps move the
story along. Build a few big production numbers around some songs and smooth the second act’s rough edges and it should be
ready to go.
Granted, Anthony Newley did a Chaplin musical in 1983 that never made it to New York. But it would be nice to think that
Broadway today might still have a stage available for this accomplished new effort, even with its traditional trappings.
The show, under Michael Unger’s artful direction, takes Chaplin from impoverished childhood in London to overwhelming
success and philandering in Hollywood, capped by his expulsion from the country to spend his final days in domestic bliss with
his last wife, Oona.
As Chaplin, Luther Creek nimbly carries a lot of the show on his capable shoulders, as well as carrying his script—
unobtrusively—during much of the performance reviewed. He’s surrounded by an extremely talented company of 16, including
Janet Metz as his mother, Sean Palmer as his devoted brother Sydney, Brooke Sunny Moriber as his leading lady Edna
Purviance, and Garrett Long as Oona.
Andrea McArdle plays a villainous Hedda Hopper and has a bluesy potential showstopper to sing. But the gossip columnist’s
vendetta against Chaplin, which takes up much of the second act, is the only strained section, and Chaplin’s clash with the U.S.
government doesn’t pack the emotional wallop it could. The final moments, though, with Robert Langdon Lloyd uncannily
resembling the older Chaplin, are deeply moving.
From the seven-piece orchestra to period costumes and unobtrusive amplification, the show, considering NYMF limitations,
is handsomely produced.
Thanks for these other reviews on the play. I removed one because it was a repeat of the second sent.
Behind the Limelight: Charlie Chaplin musical
New York Musical Theatre Festival
Review by Oscar E. Moore from the rear mezzanine for talkentertainment.com
With the bases loaded (Book, Lyrics and Music) Christopher Curtis hit a grand slam right out of the Theatre at St. Clements with his new musical Behind The Limelight – based on the life and career of the infamous “Little Tramp” Charlie Chaplin. What a fantastic show. Open the champagne and toast Broadway’s newest triple threat talent. What an entertaining backstage look at Chaplin – as a child, as a star and as an old man. It takes three actors – all superb – to fill Chaplin’s controversial shoes. As a young boy (Danny Hallowell) who learns from his mum to watch people and learn from them to the vaudevillian on his way to stardom (Luther Creek) who does a smashing job of inhabiting the soul of Chaplin without making a caricature out of him to the old man (Robert Langdon Lloyd) who bookends the show with grace, dignity and wonderment. Mr. Curtis does have some super help to mount this complicated yet clear as can be story in the name of director Michael Unger – who deserves his own bottle of champagne to celebrate their joint success.
There are times when a show begins and you just know that you are in for something extraordinarily special – this is such a show. It has a great story that is told in a concise and taught manner – you get all the points needed to me made without any excess fat which lead right into what matters most in a musical. The songs. And they are so right. They further the story and give insight into the characters. The songs are memorable. Melodic. The words are witty and intelligent. I can’t remember the last original cast recording I purchased but this one will be immediately scooped up when it’s available.
Chaplin was a womanizer and we see the many women in his life (quite comically popping in and out of his bed one right after another) but the one standout is Oona O’Neill – whom he truly loved. Garrett Long looked stunning and gave an embarrassed, nervous and yet thrilling reading to the character who truly loved him – despite all his faults and his political problems. As one of his cast-offs, Edna Purviance (Brooke Sunny Moriber) has a power ballad – “Somebody’s Going To Love Me More” – which she sings to the hilt. Wouldn’t be surprised if Streisand picks it up. Sean Palmer as Charlie’s brother Sydney is the perfect foil – steadfast, always there and understanding without being sappy. Andrea McArdle (Hedda Hopper sans hat) gives new meaning to the words “witch hunter”. She goes after Chaplin with a vengeance to get him out of the country for not giving her, her due respect in Hollywood, his immorality, for being an alleged commie, and if that wasn’t enough - for never becoming a citizen and being ungrateful to the country which helped make him a millionaire. All of this happens in the best traditions of musical comedy style.
Whatever you feel about his political alliances, Chaplin was a consummate performer, known worldwide, and you will be moved to tears by the last song of the show, “This Man”. Charlie Chaplin wanted to make the world laugh and cry at the same time - at the foibles of humanity. Behind the Limelight does just that with Chaplin’s life. Splendidly. See it.
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