Video above: The making of ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ in Denver. Photos below from the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2014 production by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
Colorado may be Molly Brown’s home, but her next residence will be in her birth state of Missouri.
Two years ago, the DCPA Theatre Company launched a completely re-imagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, directed by Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall and featuring both a new book by Dick Scanlan and a recalibrated Meredith Willson score that includes new songs from the Willson catalog. Marshall called the result “Americana at its best: Big, strong, open-hearted and optimistic.”
The production was well-received at the DCPA but its creators were intent on incorporating lessons learned from Denver toward the eventual goal of a larger life on the national stage. The next step in that journey was announced today when The Unsinkable Molly Brown was included on the 2017 season for The Muny next July 21-27. Located in St. Louis, The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre.
The Unsinkable Molly Brown tells the story of perhaps the most colorful woman in Colorado history. The original 1960 Broadway musical was beloved by some but was also problematic. The musical tells the story of a Hannibal girl who went to Colorado and married a miner who became fabulously wealthy. But unlike others in her position, Brown opened a soup kitchen and fought for immigrants. Ultimately she boarded the Titanic but survived, rescuing others in the process.
“It’s a classic American musical: beautiful and heartfelt,” said Mike Isaacson, the Muny’s artistic producer and executive producer. “And what Dick has done with it is extraordinary.”
Scanlan, a three-time Tony Award nominee also wrote the book for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and other musicals.
“Dick has kept the songs you love…and hopefully he’s gotten rid of the ones you don’t,” DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson said.
In Molly Brown’s 1932 obituary, The Denver Post’s Jack Carberry wrote: “She was a pot rustler who, shamed by her ignorance, mastered music, literature and the arts to storm the portals and pass the barriers of society.”
But while Scanlan promises audiences will see a much deeper Molly Brown than they did in the 1960 original, The Unsinkable Molly Brown remains very much a musical. And a musical comedy at that.
“This is not a documentary,” Marshall added. “This is a historical fiction. This is the journey of Molly Brown as a woman, and her marriage.”
That means this is also a romance.
“Oh it is very much a romance,” Scanlan said.
Casting for St. Louis will be announced at a later date.
Selected previous Molly Brown coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter:
- Dick Scanlan on the origin of every song
- Dick Scanlan on his eight-year affair with ‘Molly Brown’
- ‘Molly’ Brown opens: The rags-to-riches story of Denver’s heroine
- Photos, video: Your first look at ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ rehearsal
- Photos from first day of rehearsal
- ‘Molly Brown’: Rommy Sandhu’s Denver Diaries on BroadwayWorld.Com
- First look at ‘Molly Brown’ costume designs
- Denver’s Molly Brown is Denver’s Beth Malone
- Video: Visiting with Beth Malone in Leadville, Colorado
- Video: Kathleen Marshall on directing the Denver Center’s Molly Brown
- NBC Chairman providing enhancement for Molly Brown
- ‘Molly Brown’ creatives: 27 Tony nominations, 6 wins