Step to the Rear: "How Now, Dow Jones" receives Fringe revival

With all the Fringe shows being presented, this one caught my eye as I consider Ken Mandelbaum’s Not Since Carrie a personal Bible. The release tells you all you need to know about the show, so I won’t go into detail. While the original production failed after six months, one song in particular managed to find a life of its own: the act one production number “Step to the Rear.” The song has been used in political rallies, Dodge car commercials and has even been adapted into the University of South Carolina Fight song (“The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way” – I kid you not). Here is star Tony Roberts (then still just Anthony) leading the cast in the song on the 1968 Tony Awards. Anyway, here is the press information on the revisal of this long neglected musical:

The new developmental production of How Now, Dow Jones ( starring Cristen Paige (Spelling Bee, The Visit, Cry-Baby), Colin Hanlon (Rent, I Love You Because) and Fred Berman (The Normal Heart, Room Service) will begin performances this Saturday at the Minetta Lane Theatre (18 Minetta Lane) as part of the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival. This new production will also restore an Elmer Bernstein-Carolyn Leigh cabaret favorite to the show: “Shakespeare Lied”.

In a statement, director Ben West (Old Acquaintance) said, “We are thrilled to be developing this new version of How Now, Dow Jones as part of the NY International Fringe Festival. Though it was written over forty years ago, Dow Jones remains wonderfully timely particularly given the current state of the economy and the sexual politics that dominate Washington and big business. As the project has developed, we have included previously unused lyrics by Ms. Leigh, previously unused dialogue by Mr. Shulman, and just recently restored ‘Shakespeare Lied’ to the score. With its extraordinary original material – reshaped in this new version – I look forward to returning Dow Jones to the American musical theatre canon.”

With book by Max Shulman, music by Academy Award winner Elmer Bernstein and lyrics by Tony Award nominee Carolyn Leigh, this new version – revised and directed by Ben West (Old Acquaintance) – plays the following dates and times:

*Saturday, August 15 at 12 Noon

*Monday, August 17 at 10:30 PM

*Tuesday, August 18 at 8 PM

*Thursday, August 20 at 8:15 PM

*Sunday, August 23 at 5:45 PM

How Now, Dow Jones is a zany 1968 musical comedy that follows Kate, the voice of Dow Jones, whose fiancé won’t marry her until the Dow Jones Averages hit 1,000! Bribery, adultery and neurotic Republicans abound in this madcap and timely tale set in the heart of Wall Street.

This new version will be performed without an intermission by a cast of eight. The Tony-nominated score will feature three new songs: “Don’t Let a Good Thing Get Away”, “Where You Are” and “Touch and Go”; all cut from the original Broadway production. Four major roles and the ensemble have been eliminated while five musical numbers have been cut. Additionally, the musical’s signature song “Step to the Rear” will take its own advice and close the show, replacing the previously existing finale.

The production also stars Shane Bland (Bombay Dreams), Jim Middleton (Goodspeed’s 1776), Dennis O’Bannion (White Christmas), Elon Rutberg (The Black Monk) and Cori Silberman (Movie Geek). Choreography is by Rommy Sandhu (Applause, Mary Poppins) with music direction and arrangements by Fran Minarik (Sessions, The J.A.P. Show).

Tickets are currently on-sale by visiting or calling 866-468-7619. Visit: The Minetta Lane Theatre is located at 18 Minetta Lane in Greenwich Village, NYC.

The original Broadway production of How Now, Dow Jones opened on December 7, 1967 starring Tony Roberts, Marlyn Mason and Brenda Vaccaro. The David Merrick production was directed by George Abbott with choreography by Gillian Lynne (and an uncredited Michael Bennett). It played 220 performances and was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Musical, winning one for co-star Hiram Sherman. The musical, originally presented with a cast of over 40 actors, has been rarely performed since.