Like baseball, 'Yankees' will start late

April 17, 1995|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,Sun Theater Critic

Professional baseball players have agreed to play ball, and the Broadway revival of "Damn Yankees" is coming to the Lyric Opera House after all. But like the delayed baseball season, the musical will be getting here later than originally planned.

The production, starring Jerry Lewis, is now scheduled to play the Lyric Opera House Sept. 26 through Oct. 1. It will be presented by Performing Arts Productions, whose 1995-1996 season will also include "Dial M for Murder," "She Loves Me," "The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber" and "Carousel," announced Nicholas C. Litrenta, president.

"Damn Yankees," in its second season on Broadway, was originally slated as the final production in the current season of the Baltimore Center for the Performing Arts (not to be confused with Performing Arts Productions).

The musical's tour was delayed until fall, however, at the request of Lewis, who took over the role of the devil last month. Lewis wanted time to work on his annual Labor Day Telethon after completing his Broadway engagement and before beginning the tour, according to Steve Goldstein, the center's general manager.

The delay means that, as a result of cooperation between Performing Arts Productions and the Baltimore Center for the Performing Arts, the former's patrons will be able to see the show as part of their subscription, and the latter's can buy tickets at a discount.

Understanding the deal is a bit simpler than understanding baseball strike negotiations. For starters, it is necessary to know that the Baltimore Center for the Performing Arts presents shows for two- and three-week runs at the Mechanic Theatre and the Lyric, while Performing Arts Productions limits its runs to one week at the Lyric.

The Lyric wasn't available for two weeks at the time the producers wanted to bring "Damn Yankees" here, Goldstein explained. So the show went to Performing Arts Productions, which set up the cooperative arrangement with the Baltimore Center, an arrangement that also makes this expensive star vehicle more economically feasible. "I'm not sure that either one of us would have done this show without the other's help," Goldstein said.

The two local presenters cooperated once before. Center subscribers were offered discount tickets to Performing Arts' engagement of "Hello, Dolly!" in February. Both Litrenta and Goldstein said they hope to work out similar arrangements in the future.

"Damn Yankees" will kick off an 80-city national tour here. It will be followed by the first nonmusical that Performing Arts has brought in as part of its subscription -- a revival of "Dial M for Murder" (Oct. 24-29), starring Roddy McDowall.

"This is a piece that is interesting to us because what we try to do is to present a pretty eclectic season," Litrenta said. "We think there's an audience for theatrical mystery as well as musicals." Playwright Frederick Knott, whose play was made into a movie in 1954 by Alfred Hitchcock, will be involved in the new production.

"She Loves Me" (Dec. 26-31), the Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick/Joe Masteroff musical whose recent revival won awards on Broadway as well as in London, will play the Lyric in the season in which this story takes place -- Christmastime. Based on a Hungarian play by Miklos Laszlo, the 1963 musical is about a love-hate relationship between two perfume shop employees.

"The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber" was first presented at the Lyric in 1992. Since then, the composer has added "Sunset Boulevard" to his list of megahits, and songs from that score will be included in this new concert production, scheduled for Jan. 30 through Feb. 4, 1996.

The Royal National Theatre's revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Carousel" (March 19-24, 1996) will complete the subscription season. This bold, stunning interpretation doesn't shy away from the musical's inherent darkness and is being re-staged to tour by the same team that helped it win more Tony Awards than any other show last season.

In addition, Litrenta also announced one non-subscription show. A pre-Broadway revival of "Fiddler on the Roof," starring Theodore Bikel, is scheduled for May 7-12, 1996.

Subscriptions to Performing Arts Productions' five-show season range from $95 to $205. For more information, call (410) 494-2712 or (800) 669-7824.

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