Matthew Risch is Broadway's new 'Pal Joey'

Monday, November 24, 2008




In a time-honored show-biz tradition, the understudy is taking over for the injured Broadway star.

Christian Hoff has withdrawn from the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of "Pal Joey" because of a foot injury and has been replaced by his understudy, Matthew Risch.

Risch took over the role of the womanizing Joey Evans Saturday after Hoff hurt his foot during the Friday performance at Studio 54.

Because of the cast change, the revival, directed by Joe Mantello, has postponed its opening date to Dec. 18. It originally was scheduled to open Dec. 11.

Risch has appeared on Broadway in "Chicago" and "Legally Blonde." Hoff won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito in "Jersey Boys."

The revival of the 1940 Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart musical also stars Stockard Channing as wealthy socialite Vera Simpson and Martha Plimpton as scheming blackmailer Gladys Bumps.

The musical, which features such Rodgers and Hart standards as "Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered)" and "I Could Write a Book," has choreography by Graciela Daniele. The original book by John O'Hara has been redone by Richard Greenberg, author of such plays as "Take Me Out" and "Three Days of Rain."

"Pal Joey" is based on a series of short stories O'Hara wrote for The New Yorker about an opportunistic down-on-his-luck hoofer whose specialty is using people to get what he wants.

The classic story of an understudy taking over for the star is "42nd Street," particularly the 1933 film version in which little Peggy Sawyer, played by Ruby Keeler, replaces the injured star, portrayed by Bebe Daniels.

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