TEN LITTLE WORDS
"On the plain, on the plain," Julie Andrews sang. "And where's that soggy plain?" Michael Crawford wanted to know. "In Spain! In Spain!" Andrews answered musically.
Monday night, at the taping of My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs at City Center, Miss Julie sang out those lyrics with the same pristine elegance she possessed when she first did them 44 years ago in My Fair Lady. The audience offered a collective "By George, she's got it!" rejoinder and jumped to its feet. Ten words do not a comeback make--but, in this case, they did make for a standing ovation. Such as it was, this was Andrews' first public singing since her recent court settlement for damage done to her vocal cords during surgery. And the public went bonkers at the crumbs offered, mostly for the spunk and spirit that went into them.
Crawford, the evening's Higgins-for-hire, held the lady in his arms in mid-sway until the audience's cheering subsided. "I must have held that position for two minutes," he remarked after the show. "We had no idea that would happen. If we had, I'm sure that we would have thought of a different kind of dip--both for her back and my arm!"
Kiss Me, Kate's Michael Mulheren, who'd just finished brushing up his Shakespeare with Michael McCormick, saw The Moment from backstage. "We didn't know she was going to do it," he said later. "When we did the dress rehearsal, she kinda spoke. But tonight--oh, my God! The whole backstage started applauding. And, of course, we heard the response out front."
Otherwise, Andrews made her own kind of music as she hosted the event; she offered introductory notes to numbers, provided segues, and recited lyrics (notably, those for a song that was cut from My Fair Lady even before the Boston tryouts). Her erstwhile Lancelot, Robert Goulet, was on hand to stop the clock by singing Camelot's "If Ever I Would Leave You" to his Guenevere. There were other Broadway re-creations as well: Chita Rivera's "An English Teacher" and "Rosie" from Bye Bye Birdie; Rebecca Luker's "Till There Was You" from The Music Man; Nathan Lane's "Sue Me" (a doo-wop version, with backup singers) from Guys and Dolls; Marin Mazzie' "So in Love" from Kiss Me, Kate ; Heather Headley and Adam Pascal's "Elaborate Lives" from Aida; and Crawford's mesmerizing "The Music of the Night" from The Phantom of the Opera. PBS will air the show in March as a fund-raiser, but actually being there was everything.
The 75th anniversary of the Yale School of Drama and the 100th anniversary of the Yale University Dramatic Association are not going unnoticed. On November 13, Yalies on the East Coast (led by Meryl Streep and Sam Waterston) will lay siege to the New Amsterdam Theater for a gala called--and Cole Porter would have gotten a kick out of this--I Get a Kick Out of Blue. Another Yale-trained, two-time Oscar-winning actress, Jodie Foster, will take over the Beverly Hilton Hotel on the West Coast with Edward Norton to host a simulcast event out there, and the whole thing will be closed-circuited to Yale's University Theater. Produced by Jitney's Benjamin Mordecai and directed by Ain't Misbehavin's Richard Maltby, Jr., I Get a Kick Out of Blue will tap the considerable talents of Charles Dutton, Julie Harris, Bronson Pinchot, Stacy Keach, Angela Bassett, Jane Kaczmarek, David Alan Grier, Joan Van Ark, Malcolm Gets, Henry Winkler, Dick Cavett, Courtney Vance, Harry Hamlin, and John Turturro.
INTO THE WOODS
Those who landed roles in the spring Broadway revival of Follies can already count themselves ahead of the game, but Carol Woods is also working up a new one-woman show which she'll try out at Carnegie Hall's Weill Auditorium during the Follies run. Written and directed by Jack Wrangler, it's tentatively titled Stick Around. Woods also has a recurring role on the NYC-filmed series Third Watch. And, on top of all this, she'll play Mama in Hallelujah, Baby! when the York Theatre Company revives that Jule Styne tuner October 27-29 as part of its Musicals in Mufti series. Though a TV series forced La Chanze out of Leslie Uggams' Tony-winning role in Hallelujah, Baby! among those who will be aboard are Shavonne Conroy, Darryl Reuben Hall, Aaron Lazar, Janice Lorraine, Frank Stancati, and Dathan Williams....The seldom-seen Johnny Johnson, second in the Mufti series (October 20-22), has the buoyantly boyish Perry Laylon Ojeda in the title role. Michael Montel is directing a cast that includes Sherry Boone, Deborah Jean Templin, Janelle Anne Robinson, Kenneth Cavett, Erik Stein, Miguel Cervantes, and Peter Flynn.
If the York's Mufti revival (revisal, really) of Rex this past weekend seemed better cast than most Muftis, that's probably because it was directed by Jay Binder, the casting director who outfits the Encores! series with just the right people. Rex was right-peopled with Melissa Errico as Anne Boleyn/Princess Elizabeth, Paul Schoeffler as the King of France, B.D. Wong as Will Somers, William Parry as Cardinal Wolsey, and Christopher Sieber as Mark Smeaton. But Binder's crowning achievement was the casting of Patrick Page, currently playing Lumière in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, as Henry VIII.
Richard Rodgers' next-to-last musical hasn't been seen in New York since its original 49 performances in 1976; the author of the show's book (Sherman Yellen) and its lyricist (Sheldon Harnick) frankly welcomed a second shot. The vastly improved results were heartening to Ted Chapin of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, so much so that he strongly implied Rex may reign again in this revised form.
The storm at the center of the storm the first time around was Nicol Williamson, anxiously making his musical debut--and making hell for everyone around him. Harnick recalled an on-stage tantrum wherein the actor hurled his crown to the floor, prompting Rodgers to mutter, "Every quarter-inch a king!" And Yellen related his reply to a columnist who chided him for drinking in Sardi's on a Jewish holiday shortly before the show's opening: "I've been out of town with a musical starring Nicol Williamson, so I no longer believe in God."