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The Cat's Meow

What's up with DAVID SHINER, ANN-MARGRET, JOHN McDANIEL, and CHITA RIVERA?

By New York City

David Shiner in Seussical(Photo: Joan Marcus)
David Shiner in Seussical
(Photo: Joan Marcus)
JUST ASKING...

Will David Shiner really return to Seussical after Rosie O'Donnell's four-week guest stint? Or will the show fold? Or will it Grease! the wheels with revolving stars in the Cat in the Hat role? Paging Andrea Martin....

Will the owner of the Helen Hayes Theater give Kathy Najimy a chance to build her audience in Dirty Blonde, or will he exercise a stop clause so he can shove that Gershwin Alone show he's been peddling in California and Florida down our throats instead?

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LET THE FOLLIES BEGIN

The first Broadway revival of Follies goes into rehearsals January 18, and those last two troublesome roles have only recently been cast. Solange, the French chanteuse originated by Fifi d'Orsay, will be played by the marvelous Jane White, who was unceremoniously dropped from her last Broadway show during previews. (She was, ever so briefly, the brothel madam of Jekyll & Hyde.) And Dmitri Weisman, the Ziegfeld figure played first by Arnold Moss, will now be done by Louis Zorich--who is obviously going to have to put his big plans to do Zorba with wife Olympia Dukakis on the back burner for a while.

Now, to recap the rest of the cast: Blythe Danner, Gregory Harrison, Judith Ivey, Treat Williams, Carol Woods, Betty Garrett, Polly Bergen, Joan Roberts, Marge Champion, Donald Saddler, Nancy Ringham. All that plus songs by Stephen Sondheim, book by the late James Goldman, direction by Matthew Warchus, choreography by Kathleen Marshall. The Belasco box office opens on January 22. On your mark, get set...

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GET A JOB!

This past Sunday's closing of Jekyll & Hyde put Martin Van Treuren out of a job. Make that "jobs": He doubled as Lord Teddy Savage and "Spider," and was killed 16 times a week for the past nine years, on Broadway and pre-Broadway. He did the original reading of the show in Texas....James Beaman, who does a devastating Dietrich and a ball-busting Bacall, is sporting a beard these days. "I'm trying out new material," he says. "Something out of a dress." (It's supposed to be very freeing.)

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ANN-MARGRET'S FAUX PAS

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas went into rehearsal for its national tour on Monday, and Ann-Margret didn't exactly put her best foot forward when she told the show's songwriter, Carol Hall, that she couldn't wait to sing "I Will Always Love You." Hall pointed out, steely smile in place, that she didn't write that song; Dolly Parton dumped a lot of Hall's Broadway score so she could do her own stuff in the unmemorable movie version. Nevertheless, Hall has penned a new ditty for A-M to sing....Gil Rogers, who inherited Henderson Forsythe's Tony-winning sheriff role in the original Broadway Whorehouse and had the title role in The Great White Hope, can be found at the Neighborhood Playhouse through January 20, playing a widower who re-settles in Miami--in a nest of eminently available widows (Joan Copeland, Catherine Wolf, Margery Beddow, and Carolyn Younger)--in the world premiere of Gary Richards' December-December romance Second Summer. The opening-night audience contained two Oscar winners: the Best Supporting Actress of 1947 and the Best Supporting Actress of 1951. Elia Kazan directed both of these performances...Regular first-nighter John McDaniel, who musically directs The Rosie O'Donnell Show, is making a terrific solo-CD bow these days via John McDaniel at the Piano: Broadway. Let me be the first to say it: A star is born!

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Mary Cleere Haran(Photo: Bill Westmoreland)
Mary Cleere Haran
(Photo: Bill Westmoreland)
FIRST WORDS, THEN WORDS & MUSIC

TheaterManiacs who especially love Broadway show scores have already spent a great part of the recent holiday season gulping down big chunks of the new anthology Reading Lyrics, edited by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball and published by Pantheon Books. Now they're making reservations at the Café Carlyle to hear those words sung to them by Mary Cleere Haran, who does this sort of thing better than anybody else. It's her debut at the Carlyle, but hardly her first time at the rodeo; the Sir accompanying her is the knighted variety--Sir Richard Rodney Bennett--and together they weave a truly lyrical spell, from a devastating "It's De-lovely" ("Cole Porter's version of the Seven Ages of Man") to the precision of Dorothy Fields' rapier in "A Fine Romance."

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I TOLD YOU SO

Confirming last week's rumors: Christine Ebersole, Mary Testa, and Jonathan Freeman will do the 42nd Street revival....Keith Charles will recreate his role of Potemkin when the York Theatre Company's Musicals in-Mufti series gives Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's Celebration a second chance, January 12-14, at its Citicorp Center theater. Joining him will be Kate Dawson, John Treacy Egan, Michael Halling, Natasha Harper, Kenneth Kantor, Jodi Langel, Jeremiah Miller, and M. Kathryn Quinlan. This haunting curio of a show has over the years acquired a cult following, thanks largely to its Capitol cast album....Another Jones--Simon Jones, that is--will take the Mufti stage the weekend after Celebration to play Sherlock Holmes in Baker Street, and this will be followed by the as-yet-uncast Carmen Jones (directed by Harold Scott).

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GO WEST, YOUNG CHOREOGRAPHER

Broadway's flavor-of-the-year choreographer, Jerry Mitchell (he did two of the three new musicals that have opened so far this season), has gone to Las Vegas to free Tommy Tune from F/X and put Rick Springfield into it. He'll redirect and choreograph the show, but he promises to be back for his regular gig: Broadway Bares 11. In April and May, he'll prepare the national tour of The Full Monty. (Mitchell's other Broadway show is The Rocky Horror Show, not Jane Eyre!) Additionally, he's set to give all the right moves to Lisa Kudrow for a film comedy being written by Paul Rudnick and produced by Scott Rudin. "Lisa gets to play a truly madcap empress," says Rudnick, who's also in the middle of a new draft of his next play, Valhallah....All right, all right: the Best Supporting Actress of 1947 was Celeste Holm, and the Best Supporting Actress of 1951 was Kim Hunter....The Drama League will salute Chita Rivera on February 5 at the Hotel Pierre with a black-tie to-do. The show that goes with the gala will replay some of Chita's big hits.


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