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LATEST NEW YORK NEWS

CAULDRON BUBBLE

By David Lefkowitz

After a pretty well-received London premiere, The Witches of Eastwick...

Once upon a time, more than half a decade ago, the original Phantom of the Opera was being tapped by Cameron Mackintosh for a new, Broadway-bound musical based on John Updike's popular fantasy,The Witches of Eastwick. Michael Crawford didn't work out, however; and after a fairly well-received London premiere that starred Ian McShane, The Witches of Eastwick somehow went off-track for New York.

But interest in the show stateside didn't disappear, especially since Eastwick's director, Eric Schaeffer, had success staging The Fix, the previous tuner by Eastwick creators John Dempsey (book & lyrics) and Dana Rowe(music). And since Schaeffer is the artistic director of Arlington, Virginia's Signature Theater, what better place for Witches to make its maiden American flight?

Updike's story of three unhappy women who meet the perfect man - who turns out to be something of a devil - was adapted into a 1987 film that starred Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon and Jack Nicholson. In the musical version at Signature,Marc Kudisch will play the diabolical lothario, opposite a trio of newly-announced witches:Christiane Noll, Jacquelyn Piro Donovan and  Emily Skinner. Kudisch, who appeared in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Assassins revival, just finished his run in the Roundabout's Apple Tree revival. Both Noll and Skinner made their Broadway debuts in Jekyll and Hyde. Piro (recently married to theater electrician Peter Donovan) is a Les Miz and Miss Saigon alum.

The Witches of Eastwick starts previews June 5, opens June 10 and runs in Virginia through July 15. A cast recording of the London production, featuring McShane, Maria Friedman, Joanna Riding and Lucie Arnaz, was released by First Night Records in 2002.