Broadway vets Jason Danieley (Pretty Woman), Hannah Elless (Bright Star), and Paul Alexander Nolan (Slave Play) will play novelist James Agee, Mary Follet, and Jay Follett respectively in the new musical Knoxville from Ragtime trio Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Frank Galati. The world premiere production begins April 15 ahead of an April 23 opening night at Florida's Asolo Repertory Theatre, performing at Florida State University's Mertz Theatre. The run will continue through May 11.
Also in the cast are Ellen Harvey (Present Laughter) as Hannah Lynch, Nathan Salstone (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child original cast) as Andrew Lynch, Sarah Aili as Sally Follet, Natalie Venetia Belcon as Jessie, Dwelvan David as The Ferryman/Doctor Dekalb, Jack Casey as Rufus Follet, Barbara Marineau as Catherine, William Parry as Joel, Abigail Stephenson as Victoria, Joel Waggoner as Ralph Follet, and Scott Wakefield as Man at the Scene. Rounding out the company are swings Alan Chandler, Sade Crosby, Ian Johnston, Patricia M. Lawrence, and Sharon Pearlman.
Knoxville is based on Agee’s autobiographical novel, A Death in the Family. The musical chronicles his struggle to write about his gripping loss and the effect it has on his and his mother's life. Galati adapted the book, with music and lyrics by Ahrens and Flaherty. Knoxville is the latest collaboration between the trio, with Galati having helmed the original Broadway productions of Ahrens and Flaherty's Ragtime and Seussical.
"The novel has been a wellspring of inspiration and after two years of isolation and uncertainty. It’s a joy to return to a show that has so much to do with community and connection," comments Ahrens, who has been involved with the production since its origins, including its 2018 staged reading in New York City and 2019 workshop.
Directed by Galati, the creative team also includes Robert Perdziola as scenic and costume designer, Donald Holder as lighting designer, and Tom Murray as music supervisor.