Enough with the teasing, already! That much-ballyhooed stage musical based on John Waters' cult film Hairspray is all set to spew forth, ready or not--and it's more ready than not. Rehearsals begin on April 15. Harvey Fierstein, in Divine's form-fitting hip-huggers, is the show's star if not its raison d'être and a gifted unknown named Marissa Jaret Winokur will be This Year's Ricki Lake. Heading the supporting cast are Dick Latessa, Linda Hart, and Mary Bond Davis. The show will bow on June 12, very far out of town (at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theater). It starts Broadway previews on July 18 at the Neil Simon and opens there on August 15 at 6:45pm. Be there or be square.
Incidentally, Laura Bundy and Joel Vig, who made their Off-Broadway debuts together a decade ago in Ruthless! as a "bad seed" juvenile and a steel-willed agent, will be making their B'way bows together in Hairspray. She's Winokur's nemesis, a "cheerleader from hell," and he plays three authority figures (when not covering for Fierstein and Latessa).
Director Jack O'Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell--the Full Monty duo--are in charge of Hairspray. Mark O'Donnell and The Producers' Thomas Meehan did the book. The songs are by Marc Shaiman (composer) and Scott Wittman (lyricist).
The Tony Chase
There are producers who've seen a light at the end of the tunnel and realized that there isn't really a Best Play of the Year for Tony to tap. (Whazit gonna be? Metamorphoses? The Goat? Topdog/Underdog? Fortune's Fool? 45 Seconds From Broadway?) And that explains why glamorous Chase Mishkin is going full-tilt at Kilt. The Jonathan Wilson comedy that Leonard Soloway has had in development for a while is now receiving its U.S. premiere courtesy of the The Directors Company in the Mint Theater space at 311 West 43rd. If the show garners reviews that warrant a move, rest assured that Mishkin and Soloway will install it on Broadway pronto--the Cort and Longacre are available, as the Bea Arthur-vacated Booth soon will be--making it in under the Tony deadline wire and giving the voters more of a choice.
Chris Payne Gilbert, last seen here among the beautiful-young-men ensemble of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, stars as an agile Scot who go-go-dances in his granddad's kilt. Tovah Feldshuh is his mum. The others in the cast are Herb Foster (late of Kiss Me, Kate), Jamie Harris (son of Richard) and Kathleen Doyle. Jack Hofsiss, who got a Tony for the original production of The Elephant Man, is directing.
As Brian Scott Lipton notes in his TheaterMania interview with Feldshuh [click here to see it], the Broadway prospects of Kilt have thrown the York Theatre Company schedule out of kilter. La Feldshuh had been booked for its spring musical, The Lady in Penthouse B. York artistic director James Morgan considered recasting the title role--a not-very-veiled version of the late gossip columnist Radie Harris--but came to realize that Tovahs don't grow on trees, so he has pushed the show back to next season when she can hopefully do it and is now shopping around for a suitable replacement. Who knows: Feldshuh could conceivably be a 2002 Oscar contender for her new movie, Kissing Jessica Stein, around the time she'd get to play The Lady for Morgan. Hopefully, Liz Callaway will still be on hand as her gofer lady-in-waiting.
SOMETHING TO ROAR ABOUT
New stage musicals by Richard Rodgers, who died on December 30, 1979, are increasingly hard to come by. But an archeological dig by the busy York Theatre has yielded a little something that the company will world-premiere as a stage piece, April 12-14, as part of its "Musicals in Mufti" contribution to the composer's centenary. His musicalization of George Bernard Shaw's Androcles and the Lion, done for television in '67, is said to be the absolute last scrap of unstaged Rodgers. Though it was not a success back in the day, the TV cast shimmered: it included Norman Wisdom, Noël Coward, Ed Ames, Inga Swenson, Brian Bedford, John Cullum, Patricia Routledge, Kurt Kasznar, Geoffrey Holder, Clifford David, and Bill Hickey. Rodgers wrote the lyrics himself (as he did for No Strings) and Peter Stone wrote the book.
Casting kingpin Jay Binder will direct the show for the York; as you might well imagine, it has been outfitted in some excellent actors. David Costabile, an ethnic chameleon who has scored strongly of late as Spanish (Let's Face It) and French (the Encores! edition of Carnival), is Androcles to Everett Bradley's Lion. Peter Bartlett will mince out a Coward-ly Caesar, Michael Mastro will be Lentullus (the Bedford part) and Martin Vidnovic will boom forth as the Captain (the Cullum part). Teri Hansen and Gina Farral have the distaff roles and Ed Staudenmayer will field several characters.
The popular "Mufti" series is playing an all-Rodgers hand this spring, starting this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with Rodgers' and Lorenz Hart's By Jupiter, starring Klea Blackhurst and Kevin Cahoon. The series concludes April 19-21 with Rodgers and Hammerstein's almost-never-done Me and Juliet, featuring Perry Laylon Ojeda, Jessica Snow Wilson, Danica Connors, Tim Warmen, et al.
HEDGING HIS BETS
Peter Hedges, the playwright (Good As New) and screenwriter (What's Eating Gilbert Grape?), will officially turn film director beginning on Monday when cameras start whirling in Manhattan on his Pieces of April, which he also wrote. Katie Holmes plays an East Village twentysomething trying to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged and dysfunctional family. Patricia Clarkson, the sometime muse of both Richard Greenberg (Three Days of Rain) and Nicky Silver (The Maiden's Prayer), co-stars with Oliver Platt. The script, says Clarkson, "is exquisite." Let's keep that thought, shall we?