'Nick and Nora' producers might have benefited from Baltimore tryout

Theater

January 03, 1992|By Lou Cedrone

One of the producers of ''Nick and Nora,'' the musical that recently opened and closed on Broadway, was quoted as saying the reason he and the other producers didn't bring the show to Baltimore first (they had announced they would, then canceled) was because they didn't think Baltimore audiences were ''sophisticated enough'' to appreciate the musical comedy.

Maybe yes, maybe no, but the producers of the show, which was based on the ''Thin Man'' characters of Dashiell Hammett's book, might have benefited from a tryout here. The local critics might have pointed out the weaknesses in the show, and the producers might have acted on the advice.

That was the case with ''Park Your Car in Harvard Yard,'' the Israel Horovitz drama that played the Morris Mechanic Theatre before it went to New York. After the opening here, the producers of the drama tightened and shortened the show. They also shuffled some of the scenes, all of which apparently helped, because the show is still running on Broadway.

True, ''Harvard Yard'' is only a two-character play and at present, is only doing half-capacity business, but it is running.

* It's been rather quiet on the stage and movie scene this holiday season. The lull, however, is about to end. ''The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber,'' a concert presentation of songs written by Webber, will open Tuesday evening at the Lyric Opera House.

The star of the concert will be Michael Crawford, who starred in Webber's ''Phantom of the Opera'' on Broadway. Crawford will be accompanied by a 37-member orchestra and by a ''choral ensemble'' of 12, many of whom have appeared in previous Webber musicals.

Among the songs that will be included are ''Don't Cry for Me Argentina'' (''Evita''), ''Memory'' (''Cats'') and ''I Don't Know How to Love Him'' (''Jesus Christ Superstar''). ''The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber'' will remain at the Lyric through Jan. 12.

On Wednesday evening, the Center Stage company will officially open its second production of Henrik Ibsen's ''A Doll House.'' The first Center Stage production of this drama, written more than 100 years ago, was presented by the group at its North Avenue playhouse, which later burned down.

Next Friday, three new films open in this area. One is ''Rush,'' a drug opera starring Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Another is ''The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,'' a suspense film starring Rebecca de Mornay as a deranged woman who takes a job as a nanny then tries to destroy her new ''family.''

The third new film will be ''Kuffs,'' starring Christian Slater as a reckless young cop. The emphasis seems to be on comedy.

* Broadway will see ''Shimada'' on April 23. The new play will star Ben Gazzara, Ellen Burstyn, Mako and Estelle Parsons. Written by Australian playwright Jill Shearer, the play will be co-produced by the Theater Guild. The other producers are Paul B. Berkowsky and Richard Seader.

''Shimada'' is said to deal with the economic superiority of Japan. The scene will shift between a World War II prison camp in Burma and a contemporary location.

Shearer is said to be the first Australian woman to have a Broadway play. ''Shimada'' was first produced in Melbourne in 1987.

* One might wonder what the reaction of the average Russian is to Frank Capra's ''It's a Wonderful Life,'' the 1947 fantasy in which James Stewart is a young man contemplating suicide. The film is being shown for the first time on Russian television.

In the film, a capitalistic baron pushes George Bailey (Stewart) to the suicidal brink, first, by trying to buy the man out, then by stealing from him.

In the end, it is the townspeople -- who had been helped by Bailey and his savings and loan organization -- who save him by making contributions that will lift Bailey out of his financial hole.

What are the Russians to make of all this?

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