Ailing Lonny Price Misses Class Act Performances

News   Ailing Lonny Price Misses Class Act Performances Actor Lonny Price missed weekend performances of Broadway's A Class Act, and is in a New York hospital undergoing tests, although he was released long enough to appear on the Tony Awards June 3, a spokesman said.

Actor Lonny Price missed weekend performances of Broadway's A Class Act, and is in a New York hospital undergoing tests, although he was released long enough to appear on the Tony Awards June 3, a spokesman said.

Standby Adam Heller went on in the lead performance of the biographical musical about songwriter Ed Kleban at the June 2 evening show and the June 3 matinee at the Ambassador Theatre. The Daily News reported that Price, who stars in, directed and co-wrote the book of the new tuner, is suffering from a perforated colon, but a spokesman for the show had no more details. Heller is expected to go on again June 5.

On June 3, A Class Act, with songs by the late composer-lyricist Kleban, didn't win Tony Awards (it was up for five, including Best Musical). The week ending June 3, the Ambassador Theatre was filled to only 31 percent of paid capacity.

June 5 is also the first performance by Michele Ragusa, who replaces Nancy Anderson, who joins the national tour of Kiss Me, Kate. Ragusa (once of Ragtime) plays sexpot Mona in the show about Kleban and his circle of creative friends. Anderson exited June 3.

* On May 18, producer Marty Bell announced that Adam Heller, once a Charley Kringas from the York Theatre's Off-Broadway revival of Merrily We Roll Along, was the new A Class Act understudy for Lonny Price, who played the original Charley Kringas from Broadway's Merrily We Roll Along.

Price had 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 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 was 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 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.