Bay Area audiences have the opportunity to gather the clues and form their own conclusion when 42nd Street Moon presents the mystery musical “Nick & Nora” – a Broadway flop that has not been fully staged since its 1991 debut.
Based on “The Thin Man,” a successful Dashiell Hammett novel, the property was a big screen success in 1934. William Powell and Myrna Loy starred as a sophisticated couple of sleuths and spawned five sequels. (A two-season TV adaptation starred Phyllis Kirk and Peter Lawford in the late 1950s.)
For transformation to a Broadway musical, Charles Strouse (“Annie,” “Bye Bye Birdie”) supplied the score, lyrics were by Richard Maltby Jr. (“Baby”), and libretto and direction came from Arthur Laurents (“West Side Story,” “Gypsy”). The sparking cast included Tony winner Joanna Gleason and Barry Bostwick as the leads, supported by Chris Sarandon, Faith Prince and Christine Baranski.
The production struggled through an extended, revision-filled preview period before opening Dec. 8, 1991. It closed nine days later, never to be seen again – until now. Director Greg MacKellen has chosen TBA Award-winner Ryan Drummond and Brittany Danielle to deliver the witty repartee and tuneful society style of Mr. and Mrs. Charles for the Moon production.
The pair previously worked together in Bay Area productions, but never as a couple. “My character’s advances were rejected by his character in ‘The Wedding Singer’ and in ’She Loves Me.’ I don’t think we ever even spoke to each other,” laughs Danielle.
The fact that so little is documented from the sole production of “Nick & Nora” has been something of a benefit for the actors.
Drummond says, “There are no pre-conceived ideas of what the show should be. Some folks remember the films and TV series, but many don 't even know the musical exists.”
He adds, “You can’t really take too much from the movies and TV show and translate it to the stage. The style is so different. It would not translate well.”
“It’s given me the opportunity to put my own spin on it,” says Danielle, who sees Nora as a bit of a spitfire who’s deeply in love with her husband and yet also wants to establish her own reputation in his crime-solving world.
“Confidence. Confidence. Confidence!” has been Drummond’s mantra. “The man is brilliant and extremely confident with his skills. He puts the challenge to solve this murder to his wife, but it really is fun for him, too.”
IF YOU GO
Nick & Nora
Presented by 42nd Street Moon
Where: Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 6 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, closes April 19
Tickets: $25 to $75
Contact: (415) 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org