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'Vanities: A New Musical' lands off-Broadway

April 15, 2009 |  5:32 pm

Vanities The road to New York can be long, painful and filled with unexpected twists and turns. Just ask the producers of "Vanities: A New Musical."

The show, which opened at the Pasadena Playhouse in August 2008, was scheduled to transfer to Broadway's Lyceum Theatre this February. But the global economic crisis has put an end to producers' dreams of a run on the Great White Way -- at least for now.

Instead, "Vanities" will open off-Broadway in July at the Second Stage Theatre. The venue might not have the high-profile cachet of the theaters located just a stone's throw away, but it's a prestigious place that has nurtured such hits as "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and the current "Next to Normal."

The revamped "Vanities" will feature five musical numbers composed since the show closed in Pasadena. Writers also have tweaked the book and made adjustments to the story's framing device. As you may recall, the Times reviewer was less than enthusiastic about the show, saying " 'Vanities' is less of a story than a series of jump cuts."

Sue Frost, one of the show's producers, told Culture Monster today that she was ready to formally announce the Broadway engagement during the Pasadena run but "then the bottom fell out of the economy."

In November, she met with the show's other producers, and they decided that opening a musical on Broadway in the middle of a recession -- and in the difficult month of February, to boot -- would not be financially responsible. 

A window of opportunity opened in early 2009 when the leaders of Second Stage notified them of a possible postponement in the summer schedule.

Frost, who is one of the heads of Junkyard Dog Productions, said the company hasn't ruled out Broadway altogether, but added that "we're just taking things one day at a time for now."

Rehearsals at Second Stage begin June 2, with an official opening day scheduled for July 16. Most of the creative team is back -- including director Judith Ivey -- although the producers are finding a new musical director due to scheduling conflicts.

While they're at it, they might also want to update the show's official website, which still announces "Coming to Broadway in Spring 2009." Yeah, gotta fix that.

-- David Ng

Photo: A scene from "Vanities" at the Pasadena Playhouse. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times