Thirty years ago, Al Carmines adapted Gertrude Stein's 1920 composition, A Circular Play, into a musical that played at the Judson Poet's Theatre in Judson's Memorial Church in New York, where Carmines serves as minister. Now the Obie-winning show will be revived for 12 performances at Off-Broadway's The Salon, at 432 East 91st St., beginning Feb. 15.
Randolph Curtis Rand directs In Circles, which puts the non-linear prose of Stein to the ragtime, tango, waltz, opera, barbershop quartet, jazz and other musical styles of Carmines. Stein is best known for writing The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and the librettos for Four Saints In Three Acts and The Mother Of Us All.
Ten Al Carmines shows have been produced Off-Broadway, including Promenade (which gave the Promenade Theatre its name), In Circles, Peace, Wanted and Joan, which set the Joan of Arc story in the East Village. Other Stein works musicalized by Carmines are Dr. Faustus Lights The Lights, A Manoir, The Making Of Americans, Listen To Me and What Happened.
A member of the Arden Party troupe, director Rand has worked at HERE, Nada and Lincoln Center Director's Lab. Appearing in In Circles are Danielle Ferland (Little Red Riding Hood in Into The Woods), Laurette Giroux, Sarah Knapp, Gary Leimkuhler, Robin Miles, Nicky Paraiso, Barbara Rosenblat, Anthony Santelmo Jr., and David Tice. Rodney Quellar has designed the set.
"It's a quirky, eccentric chamber piece," explains production spokesperson Jim Byk (of Keith Sherman Associates). "If you're a Gertrude Stein fan, you know what to expect." (In other words, expect such song titles as "Papa Dozes, Mama Blows Her Noses.") Appropriate for the avant-garde material in In Circles is the production's home, a new space on the upper East Side -- "across from the vinegar works," says Byk.
For tickets ($12) and information on In Circles, which runs to March 1, call (212) 502-0898.
--By David Lefkowitz