Make Someone Happy, the songbook biography (and, for that matter, raison d'etre) of Broadway lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green, kicks off the Bay Street Theatre season in Sag Harbor unseasonably early this year- -on May 24, 1997.
The show, co-authored by David Copperfield's adapter, playwright David Ives, and Mrs. Green (aka Phyllis Newman, who'll direct), was auditioned last fall at the John Houseman in NYC in a rough, hour-long form that merely skimmed the highlights. Even in that incomplete state, however, Happy generated considerable theatrical interest.
"We'll get right back to work on it toward the end of January," promises Newman. "David has another play that's opening [The Red Address at The Second Stage Theatre], and after he gets that out of the way, we'll begin again."
As these two tell it, leafing gingerly through the Comden and Green songbook, the teamwork entails three sets of Bettys and three sets of Adolphs. The workshop featured the services of Dee Hoty, Timothy Jerome, Loni Ackerman, Buddy Crutchfield, Juliet Lambert and Jim Bracchitta -- but Newman wan not at all certain these six would be available for the Bay Street engagement.
The sextet will also play people peripheral to the lyricists, including Newman ("I'm the cutest and the funniest" -- even if she says so herself) and composers with whom C &;G have worked (Cy Coleman, Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne). "That may change by the time we rewrite it," Newman, she added. "Just say it's their story." What happens after June 16, when the Bay Street gig ends, is anybody's guess.
Newman, naturally, hopes the show will be brought to New York, like other plays that have lifted off at the Sag Harbor showplace. For example, Oblivion Postponed went on to the Second Stage; The Shawl played Playhouse 91.
"I've always wanted to do this because I love my husband's work with Betty, said Newman, "and I wanted a show that could play anyplace, could travel, have their songs in it -- something that wasn't a surface, And Then-I-Wrote thing."
-- By Harry Haun.