TWIN CYCLING

John Spencer
John Spencer
The latest from Warren Leight, author of the Tony Award-winning Side Man, is Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine--another portrayal of a trumpeter at the end of his tether. The Manhattan Theatre Club production will bring The West Wing's John Spencer back east. Spencer has been with the project in all three of its incarnations; interestingly, he will have had a different actor playing his twin brother in each. Terry Beaver (The Last Night of Ballyhoo) did the part in the Williamstown launching and Cloud Nine's Nicholas Surovy inherited it for the Los Angeles production. Now, the character will be done by Brian Kerwin, who played one of Stockard Channing's scheming brothers in The Little Foxes. "We're fraternal twins [in the play], which makes it easier to cast," notes Spencer. "The resemblance doesn't have to be as exacting." Scott Cohen will do the young male lead previously essayed by Friends' David Schwimmer and The Single Guy's Jonathan Silverman.

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EXIT WITH BLAIR

Quick! What's the first Tony-winning Best Play to complete its run with its original cast in tow? Depending on how you count it: last season's Tony-winning Copenhagen. All three stars--Philip Bosco, Blair Brown, and Michael Cumpsty--agreed to finish the run together. Then the play went through one last extension sans Brown, who by that point had already booked herself for a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV-movie and was obliged to do it. Laurie Kennedy, Arthur's daughter, did the show's "absolute last" two weeks. Today (April 3), Brown begins work at the McCarter Theater in Princeton with John Glover and L. Scott Caldwell on a new Athol Fugard play, Solos and Rejoicing. The author is arriving from South Africa to direct the production, and it's a strong bet for New York.

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Polly Bergen
Polly Bergen
CRITIC'S DARLING?

After the admittedly bumpy (and widely reported) first preview of Follies, Stephen Sondheim made a beeline for Polly Bergen backstage and told her, "You are Carlotta Campion! You did exactly what I thought you'd do!" Nevertheless, Bergen is braced for a blast from Ben Brantley. It seems The New York Times' Main Stem aisleman has been quite vocal about Roundabout not hiring his Carlotta Campion: Ann Miller of the Paper Mill Playhouse reprise.

In related news: On the eve of the beloved musical's reemergence at the Belasco, Triton Gallery (323 West 45th) is tossing a little bash called "Follies: A Graphic Perspective," featuring an exhibition of 30 years of the show's artwork. The event is April 4, from 4 to 8pm.

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ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS?

It's ironic that The Paper of Record (to say nothing of The Bible of Theater), The New York Times, has muzzled mention of two extremely worthwhile plays. John Henry Redford's No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs at Primary Stages has been dropped from the ABC listings after a fumbling attempt to put asterisks over the offensive word. (The title comes from a roadway sign in Mississippi.) Then the New Group had its ad for Evan Smith's Servicemen returned, unused by the picky style-setters of The Times. (The ad consists of a historical photo of a young man standing with the fly of his boxer shorts slightly open.) Scott Elliott, New Group's artistic director, was a little annoyed that the paper had no problem printing the male nude ad for The Invention of Love but won't run the relatively modest Servicemen ad. And possibly you've noticed that the Times, unlike the other papers, put the Macy's logo directly across the crotch of a man wearing underwear in one of that store's ads?

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WHEN IN ROME...

Nicholas Martin
Nicholas Martin
Don't look now, but director Nicholas Martin is having an Italian relapse at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater. Last year, it was Venice via Arthur Laurents' The Time of the Cuckoo. Now (May 10-June 7), it's the Roman spring of Mr. Martin via John Guare's latest, Chaucer in Rome. Polly Holliday will make the trek again as well. Jon Tenney, Bruce Norris, Lee Wilkof, and Dick Latessa co-star. The piece is about Americans in Rome in the last year of the millennium, when the place is packed with Catholic pilgrims from around the world.

Seasonally speaking, Martin will summer at the Williamstown Theater Festival, helming a Frank McGuinness play that's been seen in the U.S. provinces but not yet in New York. This could be the production that makes it. "It's called Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, which may be why it's not done," says Martin. He hopes to cast it with a couple of Dead End kids he used at Williamstown a few season ago: Party of Five's Scott Wolf (later seen on Broadway in Side Man) and The Invention of Love's Robert Sean Leonard. Come October 4, Martin's Hedda Gabler with Kate Burton will be on Broadway, at a Shubert house to be announced.

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BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL

Interesting back-to-back TV assignments ahead for Joel Grey in the next two weeks: "I play a demon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and an angel on Touched by an Angel. I'm covering it all."....On Monday evening, Irene Worth surfaced as a member of the chorus to Kathryn Walker's Medea in a reading of the classic that also featured Frances Sternhagen as the Nurse and Paul Hecht as Jason....Such a smart move--I would even venture to say a Jean Smart move--for Channel 13/WNET New York to re-telecast The Man Who Came to Dinner, reminding Tony nominators and Tony voters alike about the terrific performances therein (Lewis J. Stadlen's Banjo, Byron Jennings' Beverly, Harriet Harris' Maggie, et al)....Jon Lovitz will take Henry Winkler's place at The Dinner Party as of June 5, but nobody knows who'll succeed John Ritter when he exits two weeks later. "We're all fairly devastated," says Winkler's stage ex, Veanne Cox, who's consoling herself with Marci X, the new Paul Rudnick-scripted flick which Scott Rudin starts producing in New York in two weeks. Cox, Aida's Sherie René Scott, and Grand Hotel's Jane Krakowski, will play pals of star Lisa Kudrow, whose role is that of publicist for a rap star played by Daman Wayans. The film will be directed by My Favorite Year's Richard Benjamin, doubling as Lisa's record-magnate dad....Larry Marshall and Kaye Ballard will be taking the André DeShields and Kathleen Freeman roles in The Full Monty tour, which director Jack O'Brien (who also helmed The Invention of Love) starts cranking up in a few weeks. Then O'Brien returns to San Diego's Old Globe to direct Twelfth Night. And after that? A rest. "It'll have been six months of continuous rehearsal," he says. "That must stop before I hurt someone."....On Sunday, If It Was Easy bought the farm. It was either that or go from twofers to fourfers.