New York theater's spring scene will include openings of a comedy and a musical


January 15, 1995|By Joseph C. Koenenn | Joseph C. Koenenn,Newsday

Broadway's ever-changing spring landscape has two additions and one subtraction. The additions are a one-man show and a new musical. The loss is the delay until next season of "Barrymore," a one-man show starring Christopher Plummer as the legendary actor, originally planned for April.

New Yorkers will get to see what the rest of the country's been laughing about when Rob Becker brings "Defending the Caveman" to the Helen Hayes March 1. His view of the battle of the sexes traces male-female relationships from prehistoric times. It will be available at not quite prehistoric Broadway prices: $34.50 during March 1-25 previews; $39.50 after the March 26 opening.

In a season woefully short of new musicals, "Schlemiel the First" should be especially welcome. It doesn't hurt that it was a big hit during its very brief run at last summer's Serious Fun! festival at Lincoln Center. Based on a play by Isaac Bashevis Singer, the klezmer-flavored musical was adapted by Robert Brustein and has played at his American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., as well as at various points up and down the East Coast. The producer will be Alexander H. Cohen, who plans an April 4-16 date at the Stamford (Conn.) Center for the Arts before the April 27 Broadway opening at the Neil Simon Theater.

London swings: "Hot Mikado," the jazzy version of Gilbert and Sullivan's classic, is being routed to Broadway via London. The hip-swiveling, finger-snapping adaptation originated at Ford's Theater in Washington, where it drew enthusiastic reviews. New York-based producer Ronald S. Lee has scheduled an April 28 date at the Churchill Theater, Bromley, and plans a move to London in mid-May, all with an eye to coming to Broadway in the spring of 1996. The cast will be British except for Ross Lehman, who played Ko-Ko in Washington and reminds Mr. Lee of "a young Harold Lloyd." The director will again be David H. Bell, who made the adaptation with Rob Bowman. Mr Lee also expects to open "If We Are Women," a play by Joanna Glass, starring Joan Plowright, in May. "The London theater scene and economy are beginning to improve, and that's why I'm going back into the market," he said. He also noted that it's more economi cal to start in London and build a base for New York. Frankie Hewitt, artistic director of Ford's Theater, is expected to join in producing "Hot Mikado" here.

At home with Andrew: "You never know how many friends you have 'till you get a penthouse in NY," reads the needlepoint pillow cover on Andrew Lloyd Webber's sofa, and he found out Wednesday that he has at least 30 or so among the New York theater press. He and his wife invited writers and critics to their 60th-floor Trump Tower home for lunch. No news, no purpose, the composer said, except to put faces with names. The Lloyd Webbers circulated among the guests, he chatting mostly about musicals past and present, she explaining about the neighbors. Steven Spielberg has a place right above their apartment, and they sometimes socialize. Michael Jackson's up another floor, but they never see him.

Although as a Brit Mr. Lloyd Webber will never get to hear his own music at "Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert," he's giving $100,000 to become a major sponsor of the City Center series. The second season begins Feb. 16-18 with "Call Me Madam," follows March 30-April 1 with "Out of This World" and concludes May 4-6 with "Pal Joey."

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