‘Audrey: The New Musical’ Is a Love Letter to Hollywood’s Golden Age
The new biomusical pays homage to both Hepburn’s films and other groundbreaking stage and screen musicals of the era
The company of Audrey: The New Musical Off-Broadway (Credit: Eric Bandiero)
(August 5, 2022 – New York, NY) – In the new Audrey Hepburn biomusical Audrey, currently playing a limited engagement at The Players Theatre through August 28th, the company performs a swinging ‘60s go-go number about the making of the iconic party scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Shooting the single scene, audiences learn, took over a week of grueling work. “Under all our eyes we have Givenchy bags,” the actors croon in mod black ties and technicolor dresses. It’s a moment that pays homage to not only the Blake Edwards film, but also Bob Fosse’s dance sequences in the film version of his 1966 Broadway hit Sweet Charity — and, upon further inspection, the Fellini film Nights of Cabiria that served as that musical’s source material.
The sequence, and its layering of references — both expected and surprising, tipping the hat to both stage and screen, Broadway and European film at once — is the perfect example of how Audrey is tailor-made not only for Hepburn fans, but also fans of film and showbiz history at large.
Marina Yiannouris (Audrey Hepburn) and Bradley Lewis (Gregory Peck) in Audrey: The New Musical (Credit: Eric Bandiero)
More than a few of Hepburn’s movies became classics, and the musical also telegraphs the changes in Hollywood, as well as the international film industry, that took place during her career. Bradley Lewis, who plays Academy Award Winner Gregory Peck in the musical, calls the Peck / Hepburn hit Roman Holiday “one of the true pillars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.”
Yet, Lewis also notes, the film’s ending was unconventional for the era, which has helped to contribute to its timeless appeal: “I also think the finale is so bold: To not go with the fairytale ending was quite brave for the time.”
Danielle E. Moore, who wrote the show’s book, music, and lyrics, says the reference points ranged from the dance-driven, color-saturated Gene Kelly movie musicals Singing in the Rain and An American in Paris to boundary-breaking stage musicals, such as Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, that arose later.
“Both film and theater were undergoing a transformation during Hepburn’s rise,” said Moore, speaking of the disintegration of the studio system and the post-WWII reinvention of the American musical format as something more conceptual. “So as a musical theater piece capturing this time period in film history, we wanted to be in direct conversation with films exemplifying that.”
The show is also in direct conversation with Hepburn’s films, and as befits a biomusical, doesn’t miss the chance to reference both of the movie musicals in Hepburn’s repertoire — the Fred Astaire-starring Funny Face, and My Fair Lady — with winking numbers dedicated to the making of each.
Hannah Beemer as Young Audrey in Audrey: The New Musical (Credit: Eric Bandiero)
Kelli-Ann Paterwic’s choreography, which includes a fluid blend of ballet, modern, and jazz styles, also recalls the best of MGM’s Hollywood musicals, and was informed by Hepburn’s own dance background.
“As a child, Audrey always dreamed of being a prima ballerina, and it is something that served as a foundation for her career in the arts,” said Lara Strong, who shares the role of Young Audrey, a teenage version of Hepburn that dances a ballet solo dramatizing her years in war-torn Holland, with Hannah Beemer. “Ballet was one of her first loves, and was always a part of who she was, as it is for me,” she added.