Friday, October 8, 2010

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City Headed for the Stage: Broadway?

Putting It Together

I finally have to come out. I’m a Tale Chaser. No, really, its true. I’ve actually been a Tale Chaser since the early 90’s. This past weekend I made it official when I publically joined the club.

Scissor Sisters front man Jake Shears is part of the team behind Tales of the City.

When I moved to Chicago in 1989, I didn’t know many people and found myself searching for ways to entertain myself when I wasn’t working endless hours at the theatre. One of my favorite pastimes was combing through the shelves at the various neighborhood bookstores. Sometimes I would just browse and others I’d find myself lugging home a large parcel of books that would soon be transporting me to different worlds. It was on one of these excursions that I fell in love.  There on one of the tables as soon as I walked in the door was Armistead Maupin’s book Tales of the City.

As soon as I turned back the cover, I was in love. It had everything anyone could wish for: humor, mystery, romance and intrigue. I read the first book in one sitting. I found myself forced to put down future installments after a few chapters. I wanted to savor it, fantasize about that wonderful world of Barbary Lane, and make the joy of reading it last as long as I possibly could. It was my little piece of heaven.

Imagine my excitement when I read an article on the Playbill website announcing that the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) is holding a workshop of a new musical based on Tales of the City and More Tales of the City. The official title: Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Leading the incredible cast of Broadway Alum is one of my favorite leading ladies, Betty Buckley as Anna Madrigal and the wonderful Stephen Bogardus as Edgar Halcyon. (
Betty Buckley stars in the Tales workshop as Anna Madrigal.

I spent several hours searching online for anything I could find about the project on and off the ACT website. (Official press release at: ) According the press release, the workshop currently in process now through October 22, 2010 is closed to the public. It is in preparation for the world premiere at ACT scheduled for May 17-June 19, 2011. No casting for the premiere production has been confirmed.

Armistead Maupin
Photo by Christopher Turner
The origins of Maupin’s Tales are legendary. In the 1970’s they began as a series in the San Francisco Chronicle that became the first book Tales of the City which led to More Tales of the City and followed by Further Tales of the City. Nearly 20 years later, those books began to come to life on the small screen in the form of TV miniseries’. And now, after the 2009 staged reading at Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Music Theater Conference, it appears Maupin’s work will be fully realized on the stage.

In an interview last May with Los Angeles Times Critic, Charles McNulty, Armistead Maupin said, "I thought that was the greatest compliment — to have your mythology be made into these wonderful forms of entertainment. I'm so grateful for every stage of ‘Tales' — from the newspaper series, to the novels, to the television series. This is my last act in the best kind of way. I feel so lucky at 65. Some people my age think it's all over for them, and I get to sit back and watch a musical rise up out of my work.” (

If the casting for the workshop is an indication, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City could easily be Broadway-bound. Single tickets for the world premiere in San Francisco go on sale in January 2011.

The creative team features book writer Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music and lyrics by Scissor Sisters band members, Jake Shears and John Garden, and is directed by Tony Award-winner Jason Moore. Larry Keigwin choreographs the production.

Okay, its not what you were thinking but I’m sure there are many of you out there that are secret Tale Chasers too. If you want to join me and stand proud, you can become an official Tale Chaser by registering at

Press Release Photos courtesy of  ACT. ( Betty Buckley photo courtesy of (

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