Adam Heller is Price's Standby for A Class Act; Tour Expected

News   Adam Heller is Price's Standby for A Class Act; Tour Expected Adam Heller, once a Charley Kringas from the York Theatre's Off-Broadway revival of Merrily We Roll Along, is the new A Class Act understudy for Lonny Price, who played the original Charley Kringas from Broadway's Merrily We Roll Along.

Adam Heller, once a Charley Kringas from the York Theatre's Off-Broadway revival of Merrily We Roll Along, is the new A Class Act understudy for Lonny Price, who played the original Charley Kringas from Broadway's Merrily We Roll Along.

Price plays the late songwriter Edward Kleban in the Tony Award-nominated new Broadway musical, A Class Act, at the Ambassador Theatre, but he's been without a standby in the past week since understudy Danny Burstein was sidelined with a softball injury. Burstein's medical leave is eight weeks, which is the length of Heller's contract, producer Marty Bell said.

Bell also added that the show is expected to tour after its Broadway run. He said in a season of blockbuster tours like The Lion King and The Producers in 2002, an intimate, eight-actor show such as A Class Act will add variety to the touring schedule. He expects to partner with other producers for the road venture.

The new tuner is up for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book (Lonny Price and Linda Kline), Best Actress in a Featured Role (Randy Graff), Best Score (the late Kleban) and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman).

The musical, about showbusiness pals who stick together as the central character, Kleban, struggles to get his songs heard, has "no plans to close at the moment" despite internet buzz that the anemic box office will prompt a May 20 shuttering. A closing notice has not been posted for this week, Bell said. The dark horse show is expecting a boost from press in coming weeks, but will also be seen by national tour bookers who are meeting in New York in coming days. Realists can point to the box office, however, and see that unless something miraculous happens, like the casting of a name star who will sell seats, the show's Broadway future is limited. For the week ending May 13, the show had sold 37.88 percent of capacity.

Bell said he has cast Michele Ragusa (once of Ragtime) as the replacement for Nancy Anderson (in the role of Mona), who is moving to another project after June 3.

The ailing Burstein appeared in the show during previews weeks, when Price needed to step out and direct the show, and he also has performed the show about a half dozen times since it opened, Bell said.

The biographical musical has Kleban yearning to be heard as both a composer and lyricist after he wins fame for lyrics-only for A Chorus Line. He died of cancer in 1987 before his work as a composer could be heard on Broadway. Bell's mission — and that of book writer Linda Kline, who was Kleban's partner — was to get Kleban heard on Broadway, and that goal has now been met, Bell said. RCA Victor released the cast album of the show, which began at Off-Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club.

The score is made up of trunk songs by Kleban, with the tunes' original contexts altered to tell the story of his life.

The company also includes Patrick Quinn, Sara Ramirez, David Hibbard, Jeff Blumenkrantz and Donna Bullock. For ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.