Press and Media

August 18, 2011

By Kenneth Jones
18 Aug 2011

Conrad John Schuck
Conrad John Schuck

The world premiere of the musical Grumpy Old Men, based on the 1993 film comedy, will star Conrad John Schuck and Tony Award winner John Rubinstein in roles created by Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, respectively, director Bill Castellino told Susan Anton will play Ariel, the woman who comes between them.

The Minnesota-set musical will premiere north of the border at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, in Winnipeg, Oct. 10-Nov. 5. Broadway's Ken Page has been cast as Chuck, the owner of a bait shop.

Castellino (Dr. Radio and Cagney at Florida Stage, Tarzan at North Shore Music Theatre, the coming Jolson at the Winter Garden in Los Angeles) shepherded the script (by Dan Remmes) and score (by composer Neil Berg and lyricist Nick Meglin) to its current production-ready status. (Glenn Casale directed earlier starry developmental readings, of which Schuck was a part.)

Castellino told that the script expands on the screenplay and fleshes out additional characters; we now get a more vivid view of the townspeople of Wabasha, MN.

Opening night will be Oct. 13 at the John Hirsch Theatre, the mainstage of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.

John Rubinstein
John Rubinstein

The rest of the company is drawn from the Canadian acting community. A hybrid American and Canadian production team will create the show. John MacInnis (Casey Nicholaw's associate on The Book of Mormon) will choreograph. Tony Award winner Larry Hochman (co-orchestrator of The Book of Mormon) will pen orchestrations; David Holcenberg is music supervisor and vocal and dance arranger; Elizabeth Baird is the musical director.

The entire cast and creative team will be announced shortly.

Jeff Gardner and Ken Denison are the show's future commercial producers.

Here's how Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre characterizes the project: "What's there to be grumpy about in Wabasha, Minnesota? There's lots of ice, ton of fish and a gorgeous new neighbor for long-time rivals John [played by Rubinstein] and Max [played by Schuck] to fight over. Criticized by their children for not embracing change, these two aging co-curmudgeons stand firm, content to fuel the fire of their decades-long feud. But, like it or not, everything is about to change in Wabasha. A story about the true nature of friendship and an appreciation of life's fragility, this poignant and laugh-out-loud musical stays true to the double entendres and small-town feel of the beloved feature film."

Schuck has made a good living appearing in productions of Annie over the years, and is remembered for playing a cop on TV's "McMillan & Wife" in the 1970s. Rubinstein starred as the original Pippin and won the Best Actor Tony Award for Children of a Lesser God in 1980. He was also a star of the TV series "Family" from 1976-80. Page is a Drama Desk Award winner for Ain't Misbehavin' and also starred in Cats, The Wiz and more. Anton, a former Miss California, is an actress and singer known for her work in Las Vegas (Radio City Music Hall Spectacular at the Flamingo and on tour) and on Broadway (The Will Rogers Follies) and regionally (Hollywood Bowl's Hairspray).