"Theatre, theatre, theatre," explained Alan King, who will soon star in Cy Coleman's It's Good to Be Alive, "it's all about finding a theatre." Speaking briefly with Playbill On-Line at the Theatre Hall of Fame event on Jan. 31, King said he was looking forward to the show and that the key now was finding a suitable venue for it.
Alan King, who looked robust at the Jan. 31 event, has long been linked to star in the show. He will play the acting managing director of a struggling theatrical troupe in the '20s, during the heyday of Yiddish theatre in New York City.
"Back then," Coleman has said, "there were 22 thriving [Yiddish] theatres in New York, which was quite a revelation to me." Coleman described his play's lead character, saying, "You've got Alan King playing 'Romeo.' This is a guy in his '60s and he's decided nothing has been written that can't be changed. So he rewrites Shakespeare so that all of the endings are happy endings."
"I think we'll be doing it in the fall," said King. "That means summer rehearsals." King added that he and his colleagues on the production planned to devote themselves to the process. "We'll have to work on it," he said, "it's not like we can throw it to the wolves."
As reported earlier, the creative development on It's Good to Be Alive moved forward recently when the director and choreographer Patricia Birch reportedly began working with Coleman on dance numbers for the Marty Richards production. Producer Richards has presented such shows as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Crimes of the Heart, The Life, The Will Rogers Follies, La Cage Aux Folles and On the Twentieth Century. Earlier, Coleman confirmed that Gene Saks will direct the musical comedy and that the book will be by Avery Corman, author of the novels "Kramer vs. Kramer," "Oh, God!" "The Old Neighborhood" and "50."
Birch, who has already been linked to the Coleman show, has earned two Emmy Awards, four Tony nominations, Drama Desk, Billboard, Barrymore and MTV awards for her work in a variety of media. Most recently Birch's Broadway projects include Band in Berlin, the story of the Comedian Harmonists and Parade at Lincoln Center with Harold Prince, Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown. In the past, she has worked You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, The Me Nobody Knows, Grease, A Little Night Music, Candide, Over Here, Pacific Overtures and Happy End among other shows. Birch's directorial credits include I Sent a Letter to My Love (Melissa Manchester/Jeffrey Sweet), Really Rosie, (M. Sendak/Carole King) Raggedy Ann, Elvis, American Enterprise, Bernstein's Mass and What About Luv? among others.
The popular composer of Sweet Charity, City of Angels and The Will Rogers Follies, Coleman describes It's Good to Be Alive as "hysterical."
Coleman said he wants to take the show out of town for tryouts for a number of reasons. "When you do this kind of comedy," Coleman explained, "it's best to go out of town and be able to play with your audience and see if everything you thought would work actually works."
Coleman said that financing for It's Good to Be Alive is established and that development should "go as fast as we can go." "It's ready, all ready," Coleman said. "The next step is that I'm meeting with Pat Birch to go through all the dancing. Normally that's done in rehearsals, but we're getting a little jump on that."
-- By Murdoch McBride