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Broadway-aimed ‘Beaches’ musical sets cast for Canadian premiere

Kelli Barrett and Jessica Vosk will star in the new musical based on the Iris Rainer Dart novel.

(L-R) Kelli Barrett and Jessica Vosk (Credit: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic; John Lamparski/WireImage)

Principal casting has been announced for the Broadway-aimed production of “Beaches.” Kelli Barrett will play Bertie and Jessica Vosk will play Cee Cee in the international premiere of the new musical based on Iris Rainer Dart’s 1985 novel of the same name. The previously announced production will begin previews on May 18 and open on May 24 at Arts Commons Max Bell Theatre (part of Theatre Calgary) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

“Beaches” will be co-directed by Tony Award nominee Lonny Price and Matt Cowart. Jennifer Rias will choreograph. Featuring music by Grammy Award winner Mike Stoller, lyrics by Dart and a book by Dart and Thom Thomas, “Beaches” was developed in collaboration with David Austin. 

Barrett most recently appeared on Broadway in the 2023 Tony-winning revival of “Parade” as Mrs. Phagan. No stranger to musicals adapted from best-selling novels, Barrett played the role of Lara Guishar in 2015’s “Doctor Zhivago.” Barrett’s other Broadway appearances include playing Mary Jane Greenberg in “Baby It’s You!,” Nessarose in “Wicked” and Dani Franco in “Gettin’ the Band Back Together.”

Vosk returns to “Beaches,” having played Cee Cee in an October 2023 industry reading of the musical. Following her Broadway debut as a swing in 2014’s “Bridges of Madison County,” appeared in 2015’s “Finding Neverland” and as Frumah-Sarah in the 2015 revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.” She has played Elphaba in “Wicked” both on Broadway and on the road.

“I first witnessed the sheer brilliance of Jessica Vosk when I saw her in ’Wicked’ on Broadway,” Stafford Arima, Theatre Calgary’s artistic director, said in a statement. “Her Elphaba was pure perfection, and her performance redefined the role for me. In 2007, I directed Kelli Barrett in a new musical called  ‘Ace’ at the Old Globe in San Diego. For the past 17 years, I have watched in awe how Kelli has carved out a successful journey within this industry building space both onstage and onscreen. It brings me a great deal of joy and pride to have these two performers be a part of  ’Beaches’ at Theatre Calgary.” 

Theatre Calgary’s production marks the third mounting of “Beaches.” Earlier productions took place at Signature Theatre in Virginia and at Drury Lane Theatre in Chicago. 

“Beaches” will feature orchestrations by Tony winner Charlie Rosen. Joseph Thalken will serve as music supervisor, while Katie Coleman will provide music direction. Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting/Peter Van Dam. 

Spanning 30 years, “Beaches” chronicles the friendship of Cee Cee Bloom and Bertie White from adolescence through adulthood. Despite the different paths their lives take, Cee Cee and Bertie keep in touch as pen pals, often reuniting through the years at the beach.

“Beaches” is being produced by Theatre Calgary, with Jennifer Maloney-Prezioso, Douglas McJannet for Arden Entertainment, Alison Spiriti for Right Angle Entertainment and Broadway & Beyond Theatricals (Tracey McFarland, Ryan Bogner, Victoria Lang). The Canadian production is also being supported by the Al Osten & Buddy Victor Legacy Fund.