ISRAEL HOROVITZ'S new play, "Park Your Car in Harvard Yard," playing through Sunday at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, is undergoing extensive changes before its official Broadway debut at New York's Music Box Theatre on Nov. 7.
Set in Horovitz's adopted town of Gloucester, Mass., the two-character play, which stars Jason Robards and Judith Ivy, centers on the relationship between a crotchety, retired high school music appreciation and English literature teacher and his little-educated Irish housekeeper.
Baltimore has long been known as a tryout town for pre-Broadway productions, and the playwright says he has carefully studied the audiences at every show to determine their responses. This procedure has proved invaluable to the playwright.
"In my opinion the script and the production now are both remarkably improved," says Horovitz, "faster and funnier, much more moving . . . and much better suited to the players."
Originally the show ran for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Horovitz says he has eliminated 45 minutes from his play.
"Twenty-five or 30 minutes disappeared magically when the actors settled into their roles," he says. "I've cut the remaining 15 minutes from the text by rearranging certain scenes to eliminate transitions between scenes and, of course, by eliminating actual lines of dialogue."
The final scene of the play, which some critics said was redundant, has been condensed and restructured. "It is shorter," Horovitz says. "More importantly what went before the final scene has been condensed and pointed, so that the last scene is now unmistakably necessary."
The playwright says he believes initial casting of a play is vital. "Actors bring their own particular presence to a play," he says, "and a living writer has a marvelous chance to adapt the script to the living actors' unique talents. In a sense, I've had a chance to take advantage of what Judith Ivey and Jason Robards do best . . . and eliminate from the play things they are unlikely to do well.
"With the extraordinary talents of Ivey, Robards and director Zoe Caldwell, I cannot imagine having a better chance with a play on Broadway," Horovitz says.
"When we open at the Music Box Theatre next month, thanks to them and the wonderful audiences in Baltimore, we'll be ready. . . . And that's, finally, what an out-of-town tryout is all about."