Another star falls, but NSMT lands on its feet

BEVERLY — North Shore Music Theatre owner Bill Hanney is not taking any more calls from doctors or chiropractors. Not after he recently lost a second leading lady to a back injury.
Lorna Luft had to pull out of the title role of NSMT’s season-opening production of “Hello, Dolly” due to a back injury. Jacquelyn Piro Donovan, already set to play Miss Hannigan in “Annie,” was a more-than-capable replacement.
Then came the news that a severe back injury — an annular tear of the L5 disc, to be exact — would prevent Lucie Arnaz from starring in the run of “9 to 5: The Musical” set to begin Sept. 25.
It doesn’t always happen, but this time the theater again landed on its feet. Dee Hoty, a three-time Tony nominee who had already played the leading role of Violet Newstead in the show’s first national tour, has agreed to step in.
“I was afraid anyone who’d ever had any kind of bad back would never want to work here again,” said Hanney.
He was auditioning actors in New York for the upcoming production of “Guys and Dolls” when he received word of Arnaz’s injury and the likelihood she would have to pull out.
“I am so disappointed that, due to a very recent back injury, I will now not be able to perform in North Shore Music Theatre’s production of ‘9 to 5: The Musical,’” said Arnaz. “It’s disappointing to me for so many reasons, especially after meeting with the creative team involved and knowing what a first rate production this is going to be.
“But, the good news is, that Dee Hoty, a good friend and a marvelously versatile actress who shepherded the same part of ‘Violet Newstead’ so brilliantly in the show’s First National Tour, has graciously offered to step in and play that part once again. And believe me, North Shore audiences are in for a real treat.“
Arnaz said she looked forward look to the opportunity to perform in a future production at North Shore Music Theatre.

Dee Hoty stars in “9 to 5: The Musical”

Hanney said it’s not like you can go to and get your pick when a star drops out. The theater compiled a list of actresses the theater considered for the role before Arnaz, another list of actresses who have played the role in the recent past, and then finally a list of those who might be interested and available.
“Someone suggested Dee Hoty, but I thought it might be a million to one she was even available,” said Hanney.
Hanney said the public is very understanding when a star has to pull out, but the marketing
campaign is usually already under way, and the theater has to get the word about the changes.
“There are posters, ads, promos that all have to be changed,” he said.
He noted that subscriber renewal drives are done based on the show announcements, and not on who will be starring in the shows.
Hoty, a Broadway veteran got rave reviews as Donna Sheridan in the first national tour of “Mamma Mia!” that came through town in 2001 after she had played the part on Broadway.
“I loved Boston, I loved the Colonial, I loved the smiles on the faces,” she said. “It was fun to be a rock star.”
Hoty, who has family in New Hampshire and north of Boston, had always wanted to revisit the role of Violet and perform at NSMT. But she still loves Lucie, and feels bad about how the opportunity came about when she got the call asking first, if she was interested, and second, if she was available.
“I know Lucie (Arnaz) socially and I felt so bad for her,” said Hoty. “It’s such a great part. I hope she gets the chance to perform it again.”
Hoty had to move a couple of other assignments around. There was also the change from a proscenium stage to NSMT’s in-the-round configuration, but she’s fortunate enough to have Richard Stafford, the veteran of many NSMT shows, directing, making that transition much less difficult.
There will also be fewer costume changes in this production.
Recently, Hoty was seen in “Stormy Weather: the Life of Lena Horne,” at the Pasadena Playhouse playing opposite the great Leslie Uggams
Hoty will be joined in the cast by longtime NSMT favorite George Dvorsky, playing Franklin Hart, Jr., the boss you love to hate, and local star Kathy St. George playing Mr. Hart’s “administrative eyes, ears, nose, and throat,” Roz Keith.
Stafford directs and choreographs with musical direction  by Mark Hartman. The creative team also includes Phillip Witcomb (Scenic Designer), Paula Peasley-Ninestein (Costume Designer), Phillip Watson (Lighting Designer), Jessica Paz (Sound Designer), Natalie A. Lynch (Production Stage Manager), Jonathan Stahl (Associate Director Choreographer), Brad Gardner (Assistant Musical Director), and Michael T. Clarkston (Assistant Stage Manager)..
“9 to 5: The Musical,” Sept. 25 to Oct. 7 at the North Shore Music Theatre, Beverly. Call 978 232-7200 or go to