Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wildcat Opens, Lead Casting Remembered

The Moon’s ongoing production of Wildcat started with a bang last week when the show opened with lead Maureen McVerry wearing a vintage garter that Lucille Ball had worn when she had the role. The packed audience at the Eureka Theatre on Saturday included John Henry, a self-described Lucille buff who brought the garter and invited Maureen to wear it for her opening night performance.

The cast and audience mingled after the performance over appetizers from restaurant sponsor L’Olivier’s (many people don’t know that the opening night shows include catered receptions, let alone wine). The next day, Neil Wilburn, the author of the upcoming book “Lucy Goes to Broadway,” a historical look at Lucille’s time on the small stage that’s set to hit shelves before the show’s 50th anniversary, participated in the post-production cast and crew talk back.

Neil (shown here with Rob Hatzenbeller (Joe Dynamite) and Maureen) said that Lucille had planned to film a movie version of Wildcat in the early 1960s. When it didn't happen, Ann-Margret was announced for the role a few years later but the casting was never fruitful. He also spoke about how Lucille had carefully chosen Wildcat because the role was such a departure from her Lucy Ricardo character, but that Desi had urged her to put more "Lucy" into her characterization, which she reluctantly did. Neil said he feels the show itself is very underrated and hopes his book will get more theaters interested in producing it.

Wildcat can be seen at the Eureka Theatre until May 24. More information and tickets can be found on the 42nd Street Moon website.

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