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NYMF’s Shine!, a Rags-to-Riches Musical, Will Star Andy Mientus, Michael Halling, Meggie Cansler | By Kenneth Jones

The New York City premiere of Shine! The Horatio Alger Musical will feature Michael Halling, Meggie Cansler, Philip Chaffin and Andy Mientus, among others, in its Oct. 7-17 run as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

The tuneful and traditional period musical comedy, inspired by rags-to-riches characters and stories by Horatio Alger, has been seen regionally and in Manhattan readings (and is published by Samuel French), but this is the first fully produced production in Manhattan. The script and score have been revised and refreshed for the 2010 NYMF by book writer Richard Seff, composer Roger Dean Anderson and lyricist Lee Goldsmith. Anderson and Goldsmith are known for their musicals Chaplin, Quality Street, Ladykiller and Abe.

Shine! performances under the direction of Peter Flynn will play The Theater at St. Clements, 423 W. 46th Street. Shine! is presented by Other Side Productions.

The creative team includes choreographer Devanand Janki; set and costume designers Michael Bottari & Ronald Case; music supervisor, arranger and orchestrator Greg Anthony; music director Annbritt duChateau; associate musical directors Danny Percefull and Sue Anschultz.

A cast of 18 makes this one of the rare large-cast productions of NYMF. Here’s how the producers bill the 1876 Manhattan-set show: “With a highly melodic, hummable and bouncy score with bright lyrics, Shine! The Horatio Alger Musical follows the tale of Ragged Dick (Horatio Alger’s first best-selling hero) in lower Manhattan as he rises from penniless bootblack to budding Wall Street entrepreneur. Dick’s adventures with a little bit of luck, some charm and a whole lot of hard work bring him face to face with scheming ex-convicts, vicious comic villains, kind benefactors, and a world of colorful street characters in this charming rags-to-riches romp for everyone.”

Mientus, who played Hanschen in the tour of Spring Awakening, plays hero Dick; Halling (A Tale of Two Cities, The Pajama Game, In My Life) is villainous Gerrish; Cansler (Broadway’s The Apple Tree, Finian’s Rainbow) The is damsel Stacia; Chaffin (Broadway’s King David concert, and a PS Classics recording artist) is upstanding member of society Carlisle. The company also features Jimmy Ray Bennett (White’s Lies, the Encores! revival of Damn Yankees); William Ryall (Grand Hotel, Seussical) as Silas Snobden; Stanton Nash (Wicked, McCarter’s Take Flight) as Higgins; Tyler Merna (Tusk! Tusk!) as kidnappable kid Rob Carlisle; Dan Lawler (Off-Broadway’s With Glee and Pinkalicious) as Foswell; Evan Jay Newman (Broadway’s Les Miserables) as Mickey Maguire; and Kathy McGrath as landlady Mrs. Mooney.

Director Flynn is artistic director of The Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY. He staged the New York City concerts of On the Twentieth Century (Douglas Sills, Marin Mazzie, & Joanne Worley); Chess (Josh Groban); and Funny Girl (Whoopi Goldberg, Bebe Neuwirth & Peter Gallagher, among others). Janki directed and choreographed the award-winning hit Zanna, Don’t! and Junie B. Jones, Cupid & Psyche, Henry & Mudge and John Patrick Shanley’s Romantic Poetry (MTC).