The world-premiere production of the new musical Having It All, with book and lyrics by Wendy Perelman and David Goldsmith and music by John Kavanaugh, opens on Saturday, March 12, at the NoHo Arts Theatre in North Hollywood.
The tremendous gains that women have made in recent decades, having fought for and won their economic and reproductive independence, have been a mixed blessing. It’s a conundrum with which Perelman — a successful New York-based actress, wife and mother — is all too familiar. For some women, severing the ties that used to bind them to husband, home and family has meant freedom and fulfillment. For others, though, having the ability — even the mandate — to pursue the career of their dreams has meant eschewing the pleasures that traditional gender roles provided.
“We were sort of expected to juggle all the balls of ‘having it all’ — meaning having a career and kids — without having to make any sort of adjustments,” says Perelman. That, she found, turned out to be a particularly tall order.
Commiserating and collaborating with friends who found themselves in similar straits, Perelman began collecting stories and songs. Goldsmith and she started writing the book for a new musical, and composer John Kavanaugh, a frequent contributor to Disney and Universal Studios projects, was soon brought on board.
Having It All tells the story of five women who become stranded at JFK airport. As the flight delays drag on, the women, all from different backgrounds and with different family and career goals, wind up sharing their stories.
“The show is about five women,” Perelman says. “But everyone can relate to this show because it speaks to how we all have to balance the pursuit of our dreams. It’s actually more like The Breakfast Club than Sex in the City.”
After a series of successful readings and workshop productions in New York, the project eventually found its way to the desk of top Los Angeles producer David Elzer — who was fresh off the success of The Marvelous Wonderettes.
“At first I was hesitant to do another show featuring an all-female cast, but there is a tremendous universality to these women’s stories that really resonated with me,” Elzer says.
Under Elzer’s wing, the production quickly gathered steam, with casting director Michael Donovan and director Richard Israel assembling a cast that is “the crème de la crème of the LA musical theatre scene.”
“In the readings and workshops I’ve seen of this show,” Elzer says, “I’ve seen quite a few tears shed as well as some amazing laughs.”
“I think the emotion, the themes and the heart of the show are limitless,” says Perelman. “Because we all have to decide for ourselves what ‘having it all’ really means.”
Having It All will begin previews on Saturday, February 26 and will open for an 8-week run beginning Saturday, March 12 at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. (at Lankershim) in North Hollywood. Ticket prices are $40. Preview Tickets are $25. For tickets, please call (323) 960-7776 or visit www.plays411.com/havingitall.