A Tony for Barbra?
ANTHONY LaPAGLIA may be moving in next to BARBRA STREISAND, and KATHY NAJIMY is yielding the Helen Hayes Theatre to GEORGE GERSHWIN.
A STERN VIEW OF STREISAND
Anthony LaPaglia, who achieved film stardom a decade back by swiping Betsy's Wedding from the likes of Alan Alda, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy, is giving serious thought to doing a play called Barbra's Wedding-- "One of the funniest plays I've ever read in my life," he sez. It would happen this year, "probably" starting Off-Broadway. The author is better known as an actor: Daniel Stern, who played one of the burglars pulverized by Macaulay Culkin in the Home Alone flicks and supplied the narration for The Wonder Years on TV. The action of the play takes place on July 1, 1998--the day Barbra Streisand became Barbra Brolin--and concerns a basically unemployable actor whose only claim to fame is that he was once the next-door neighbor on a sitcom called Everything's Peachy. In the play he's Streisand's next-door neighbor in Malibu. "Although he doesn't know her," LaPaglia explains, "he feels he should have been invited to the wedding--and complete insanity ensues from that point on."
On the dramatic side of the ledger, Tony took the Tony his last time on the New York stage, in Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge--which puts him in a very good position for a revival of After the Fall, Miller's veiled version of his marriage to Marilyn Monroe.
YES, BUT IS IT A MONEY REVIEW?
"Endless in its invention, relentless in its energy, extravagant in its design, witty in its silliness, and shameless in its show bizziness, the stage musical of The Producers is an absolutely socko monster hit." So goes the opening first sentence of the to-die-for notice that was filed by the Chicago Tribune's chief critic, Richard Christiansen, on Monday. Remember: He was not nearly so charmed by The Goodbye Girl, Victor Victoria, and Aida, when those shows had their windy city tryouts....At the other end of the spectrum was the lead that Jason Zinoman came up with for his Time Out review of the late, unlamented musical fantasy Time and Again: "People vomit for all kinds of reasons--drunkenness, the flu, bulimia. But during a recent performance of the sickly new musical Time and Again, an audience member may have committed the first upchuck in medical history due to soupy music and a dopey book. Sitting two seats to my right, the green-faced gentleman demonstrated an acute critical eye when he said 'Blecch!' and spewed chucks all over the carefully groomed heads in Manhattan Theatre Club's second row. My friend, I heartily agree." In truth, Zinoman doesn't know how lucky he was not to be caught in a kind of bilious crossfire. One of the show's creators mentioned--not to plea for special sympathy--that a good half-dozen of the cast, who had gone out together the previous night to eat, had food poisoning on opening night; but every man jack of them somehow managed to go on.
INTO THE WOODS
You have until February 24 to ignore The Paper of Record's decidedly downbeat notice and catch Carol Woods' wonderful act at Arci's Place. The Observer's Rex Reed and The Post's Chip Deffa have praised her, quite justifiably, to the sky--and, undoubtedly, so would the Daily News, if somebody there knew there was a medium called cabaret (Wayman Wong, where are you?). Woods would have extended at Arci's were it not for a pressing Broadway engagement known as Follies. Since Day One of rehearsal, she has been blowing everybody away with her electrifying "Who's That Woman?"....As foreshadowed in this column before the gig began, Kathy Najimy was tripped coming out of the starting gate, and Dirty Blonde will close all too soon. It seems that the owner of the Helen Hayes wants to put in the one-man Gershwin show he's producing. That show looked less than promising when previewed on CBS This Morning--but then, this is the guy who refused to book Wit into the Hayes.
DAN THE DAD
Daniel McDonald was so busy playing an ideal husband off stage that he missed the first preview and the first matinee of An Ideal Husband at the Paper Mill Playhouse last week. "This is my second time in costume," he announced at the press preview on Friday, spots still forming in front of his eyes. "I knew the lines, everything was in place, the lighting was set, and I just went through the play. It was magical--and a little other-worldly, too." McDonald wasn't AWOL: It seems that his firstborn (still unnamed) timed his arrival to the production's start-up, making his entrance at 5:00 in the morning on Thursday, February 15. Mom is Mujah, an Italian-Moroccan actress and, in McDonald's book, "a Mediterranean goddess." (She has a last name-- Melehi--but, like Cher, doesn't use it.)
FATED TO BE KATED
Jim Newman, who co-starred with McDonald in Broadway's short-lived Steel Pier, and Nancy Anderson, currently of A Class Act, won the secondary leads in the Kiss Me, Kate tour. Rachel York and Rex Smith, last teamed for The Scarlet Pimpernel, have the leads. Michael Blakemore, the show's Tony-winning director, will start rehearsing in May....Joan Copeland did the reading this week of Neil Simon's next, 45 Seconds From Broadway (a reference to the Edison Coffee Shop, a.k.a. "The Polish Tea Room")....Julia Murney, late of Manhattan Theatre Club's Time and Again and The Wild Party, will introduce a song from Stephen Schwartz's next musical--Wicked, based on the Daniel Murphy novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West--in an evening of Schwartz's songs playing at the Duplex at 5pm on Sundays in March. It's an Art: The Music of Stephen Schwartz is a fundraiser for The Storefront theater company....Former Footloose star Jeremy Kushnier says that The Rhythm Club, which adjourned before getting to Broadway, will rally for rehearsals in the summer and bow in the fall....Tweed Fractured Classicks dragged out the women's prison saga Caged for a Town Hall airing on Monday with Varla Jean Merman, Charles Busch, Lily Tomlin, Joan Rivers, and a host of other stars. Now Rosemary's Baby is being eyed as a suitable case for treatment in the series.