There is a high level of excitement at The Segal Theatre this month; and rightly so. When Executive and Artistic Director Lisa Rubin introduced a recent media call for The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz: The Musical, she referred to this production in the context of “our Dream Big season”. Lisa and her Segal colleagues have pulled out all the stops for this original musical and world premiere adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s breakthrough novel.

It all begins with the writing of the musical’s ‘book’ (adapted from Richler’s novel) and the lyrics and music of the musical’s songs. The folks at The Segal engaged award-winning composer, lyricist, and librettist David Spencer to work with Broadway’s most successful composer Alan Menken to transform the theme of Richler’s “Duddy”. This is the third musical version, the first being in Edmonton and then in Philadelphia. “This time – we’ve got it right” stated writer and lyricist David Spencer. Three-quarters of the songs are new, and we changed the ending a bit from the novel, because it is after all – a musical; and you want people to feel good when they leave the theatre. There has to be a focus to a musical, a thematic spine; and we’ve maintained the spirit of Richler’s wonderful book.”

The music has been written by Allan Menken, who has won more Academy Awards than any other living person, and he has won 11 Grammy Awards. His stage musicals include: Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty And The Beast, A Christmas Carol, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Enchanted and Tangled. His film musicals also include Aladdin, Pocahontas, and the film adaptations of his stage musicals. Menken has his own star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Menken has collaborated with Spencer for the music for the Segal production.

In a series of ‘accidental’ meetings between Spencer and Director Austin Pendleton, (a television, film and stage actor with an impressive resume, Spencer convinced his colleague from a previous Duddy production to again direct this production. There is a mountain of talent involved in the creative process, facilitated greatly by Lisa Rubin and her husband Elan Kunin. (Spencer was in New York to see a show written by Kunin; and met Lisa who was in town to visit her husband; and the conversation turned to The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz: The Musical. Having already produced a Yiddish version, Lisa said that The Segal would be on board to produce the English version.)

“A man without land is nobody”… Simcha Kravitz Taking his grandfather’s advice, Duddy Kravitz embarks on his quest to become a man of substance … “to go away nobody and come back somebody!”

The fourteen-member cast of the Montreal premiere is equally impressive. Duddy is played by Ken Stewart, who brings the experience of five years at the Shaw Festival, and Charlie Brown in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. Lenny Kravitz is played by Adrian Marchuk, who spent three years playing and singing the role of Frankie Valli in the Toronto and Las Vegas productions of Jersey Boys.

The preview performances have created such a buzz that management has extended the run – even before the opening night performance. The scenes I took in were stellar. This production of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz: The Musical is the real deal…Broadway comes to Montreal with world-class writing, music, directing and acting.

Tickets range from $32 – $64 and are available at the Segal Centre Box Office: 514-739-7944 or Enjoy!

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