Garth Drabinsky Plots Broadway Return With 'Sousatzka'

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Shirley MacLaine and Navin Chowdhry in the film 'Madame Sousatzka'

The Canadian producer who served time for fraud and forgery will try out the new musical next February in Toronto before a planned New York run in the fall.

Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky has announced plans to return to Broadway next fall with a musical based on the novel Madame Sousatzka, which became a 1988 screen vehicle for Shirley MacLaine.

Titled Sousatzka, the new show will star Victoria Clark, Montego Glover, Judy Kaye and Jordan Barrow. It was adapted by Craig Lucas from the Bernice Rubens novel, and will feature a score by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire in a production directed by Adrian Noble and choreographed by Graciela Daniele.

With the exception of newcomer Barrow, those are all seasoned Broadway names — with a handful of Tony wins and a slew of nominations among them. But the one name likely to be absent on opening night if the show's New York launch goes ahead as planned in October 2017 is Drabinsky.

The Canadian producer, who made a big splash on Broadway in the 1990s under his Livent banner with a hit revival of Show Boat and premieres including Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman, remains a fugitive from U.S. justice.

Along with Livent co-founder Myron Gottlieb, Drabinsky was convicted in Ontario Superior Court in 2009 of fraud and forgery, with both men receiving prison sentences for the creative bookkeeping that led to their company's collapse. Mike Ovitz was among investors fleeced by the business partners.

It doesn't appear that Drabinsky, who recently completed parole in Canada, will let an outstanding arrest warrant keep him from the Great White Way. However, while Sousatzka is billed as "A Garth Drabinsky Production," reps for the show confirmed that he will serve as "creative producer," without actually being operational on the ground for the Broadway run.

Set in London in 1982, the show tells the story of a young musical prodigy torn between the iron wills of two very different women, his political-refugee mother and his eccentric Russian piano teacher. The show will play a pre-Broadway engagement at Toronto's Elgin Theatre, beginning previews Feb. 25 for a March 23 opening, and running through April 9.

The deluxe creative team also includes orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, production design by Anthony Ward, costumes by Paul Tazewell and lighting by Howell Binkley, the latter two 2016 Tony winners for Hamilton.

The show will be presented by Teatro Proscenium Limited Partnership, whose CEO Richard Stursberg said in a statement, "My association with Garth has proven itself to be one of the most satisfying and enduring creative relationships I've ever had, and I look forward to ensuring that he has every resource available to get this inspired show to Broadway, and beyond."

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