The Catholic University of America

Oct. 9, 2012

Finian's Rainbow Features Broadway Choreographer

There’s gold at the end of the rainbow — and a leprechaun, of course — in "Finian’s Rainbow," the fall musical of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at Catholic University. Performances are set for Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m. at Hartke Theatre.

In this production, the cast of CUA students is joined by students from Howard University’s drama program as well as from Washington, D.C.’s Duke Ellington High School for the Performing Arts.

Parker Esse is director/choreographer, and N. Thomas Pedersen, clinical assistant professor and head of Catholic University’s musical theater division, is music director. Esse is a world-renowned choreographer and performer who has worked extensively both on and off Broadway in New York, as well as in D.C., on numerous productions including "Finian’s Rainbow."

Esse’s background includes choreographing the critically acclaimed "Oklahoma!" for the inaugural production and grand re-opening of Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in D.C, where he was honored with a Helen Hayes Award for Best Choreography for the 2010-2011 Season.

He most recently choreographed "The Music Man" for Arena Stage’s spring 2012 production and "Carousel" as the summer 2012 production at Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut.

Additionally, Esse has taught master classes in musical theater and dance for the last 16 years for several institutions, including the University’s drama department. He has been on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and Cap 21 Musical Theatre Conservatory and Theater Company, as well as at D.C.’s Arena Stage’s Musical Theater Academy.

“When I approached Parker about coming to CUA to direct and choreograph Finian’s, I was thrilled he was excited about the project. He is not only a creative director/choreographer, he is a master teacher and fits beautifully into the teaching life of CUA,” said Pedersen. Esse worked on the recent Broadway revival of the same show. “I knew this would not be a re-mount of the Broadway version, but a fresh look at the show molded to our students,” he added.

Music in "Finian’s Rainbow" is by Burton Lane, lyrics are by E.Y. Harburg. The musical is based on a book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy.

Pedersen notes that “Finian’s Rainbow is relevant today. Not only is the score superb, lush, and melodious, but the themes of tolerance, hope, living beyond one’s means, community, racism, and optimism are very much on everyone’s minds.” And, he added, “it’s an election year, and what is better than using satire to help move social commentary along and help spread optimism as much as we can.”

Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for seniors, students, CUA alumni, faculty, and staff, and can be purchased online at with an additional $2 service charge.

The theater is located at 3801 Harewood Road, N.E., Washington, D.C. For more information, visit or call 202-319-5416.



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