Spotlight Communications, Inc. will present an invitation-only reading of the new bio-drama Willie and Me: The Emmett Kelly Story September 18 in Manhattan.
Tony nominee Brad Oscar (Something Rotten!, The Producers, Nice Work If You Can Get It), as previously reported, will star in the title role. Oscar will be joined by Tony winner Karen Ziemba—currently on Broadway in Prince of Broadway—as Evi Kelly, Emmett Kelly’s wife; and Carson Elrod (Peter and the Starcatcher, Reckless, Noises Off) as Junior, Emmett Kelly's son.
Willie and Me: The Emmett Kelly Story is co-written by Stephen Woodburn and Jonathan Cerullo and concerns the life and times of Emmett Kelly, Sr., known to millions of Americans as the sad-faced clown Weary Willie. His trademark routine was the sweeping up of a spotlight into his pocket. Despite touching the hearts of children worldwide, Emmett Kelly, Sr. and his oldest son, Junior, could never reconcile, and it broke the father's heart.
In addition to performing in a variety of circuses, including Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus for 14 years, Emmett Kelly performed on Broadway in Keep Off the Grass, a 1940 production starring Ray Bolger, Jimmy Durante, Jackie Gleason, and Jerome Robbins. He also appeared in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 Academy Award-winning film The Greatest Show on Earth.
The reading, which will be directed by Cerullo, will also feature Vanessa Wendt and David Ryan Smith, who will play a variety of roles.