The musical - complete with special effects - will open at Apollo Civic Theatre, 128 E. Martin St., Friday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m. It will continue Saturdays, Feb. 24 and March 3 and Friday, March 2, at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, Feb. 25 and March 4, at 2 p.m.
Michael Hulett plays Og, the leprechaun whose pot of gold is stolen by Finian McLonergan, played by Carl Andreasen. Finian takes the gold to Rainbow Valley, Missitucky, USA, believing that planting it there will make him rich. The story is mythical, yet down-to-earth, Hulett says.
"There's a little bit of magic in the show," he says.
"Finian's Rainbow" opened on Broadway more than 50 years ago, receiving three Tony awards.
"It's not done that often," says Kim Herman of Martinsburg, who portrays Sharon McLonergan. The show has a second plot that carries a message of equality, Herman says. The McLonergans help Woody and Sharon Mahoney, played by
Zachary Hall and Marisa Rubio, owners of Rain-
bow Valley, keep it from the hands of a bigoted senator.
Herman likes her character. Sharon is spunky and has a good head on her shoulders. She also has some great songs, including "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" and "Look to the Rainbow."
"I always enjoy working with Bob," Herman says of director Leblanc, with whom she has collaborated in "Brigadoon" and "Carousel" at the Apollo.
Leblanc stages wonderful production numbers and has a way of keeping with the spirit of the original script, she says.
Carolou Russell, director of Hagerstown Ballet and West Virginia Youth Ballet, is choreographing ballet sequences that often are cut from the production. Sandy Stamets is music director, leading a small orchestra in the Apollo pit.
The play has been put together in pieces, says Leblanc, who has years of experience. He's performed on Broadway and was a partner in a Rochester, N.H., summer theater for 12 years. He performed in musical productions on cruise ships from 1965 to 1987. He estimates that he's directed about 175 musicals.
Leblanc enjoys the job.
"I just like being able to create, to be responsible for bringing what's on the written page to life," he says.
Others with professional theater backgrounds are in the ranks of "Finian's Rainbow."
Hulett, of Lovettsville, Va., has been involved in theater all his life, but began performing only a few years ago. The son of a Broadway actor and a dancer, he grew up in New York City.
"Mostly I write," Hulett says. He wrote the script and lyrics for musical versions of "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Dracula," collaborating with composer Doug Yetter. Hulett also penned "Dreamland," a two-person show set in a fictional ballroom of the 1920s, '30s and '40s, performed to raise funds for a new roof at the Apollo.
Dale Herman, Kim's husband and president of the theater's board, is working to restore the theater, which he says has a significant place in Martinsburg. Apollo Civic Theatre, on the National Register of Historic Places, has had a number of lives, he says.