Bea Arthur will sing "What Can You Get a Nudist for Her Birthday?" one last time on Broadway April 14, when she wraps up her run of Just Between Friends: Bea Arthur on Broadway at the Booth Theatre.
The evening of song and stories from the TV and stage star (with Billy Goldenberg assisting on piano) was originally to be a limited engagement Jan. 29-March 10, and earned back its initial investment. Audience interest prompted several extensions. The producers announced Feb. 28 that the 78-year old, 5-foot-9-inch actress known for playing "those assertive women" (as she puts it) on TV would continue at the Booth indefinitely.
The decision by the producers of I'm Not Rappaport to delay its Broadway opening (slated for the Booth) helped make way for the Arthur extension.
If Tony Award nominators agree that it's worthy, the show might emerge as a nominee in the Special Theatrical Event Tony Award category. Just Between Friends, Sexaholix...a love story, Elaine Stritch At Liberty and Barbara Cook's Mostly Sondheim were all deemed unique enough to skirt the typical "musical" and "play" categories. If they are nominated, they would appear in the Special Theatrical Event category, a Tony committee announced April 11.
One of Arthur's wishes for the show is to play London, but there is no announced plan for that at this time. *
Just Between Friends, in which Arthur reminisces, tells jokes and sings a clutch of specialty songs (with Billy Goldenberg at the piano), was first extended to March 24 when the public embraced her show.
The opening night party was held Jan. 29 (after her first performance), and a press opening was held Feb. 17. Golden girl Arthur is a vet of "Maude," "The Golden Girls" and Broadway's Mame.
A cast album of the Arthur revue (recorded on the road in 2001 when it had another title) was released Feb. 12 on the DRG Records label.
Daryl Roth, USA Ostar Theatricals and Bev Bartner are producing Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends (formerly titled ...And Then There's Bea, With Her Friend Billy Goldenberg at the Piano), which opened at Minneapolis, MN's Guthrie Theatre April 24-29, 2001. The show charts Arthur's theatre and TV career through songs and anecdotes.
Those looking for an alternate take of "The Man in the Moon Is a Lady," from Mame, are in luck.
Record producer Hugh Fordin snagged the cast album deal for Arthur's solo show, And Then There's Bea, last fall and recorded it live Dec. 12 13, 2001, while it was on its national tour under that title. Billy Goldenberg is at the piano on the disc and on Broadway, where the salty funny Arthur pretends to bark orders at him in service of her evening of tunes and career stories.
The album was recorded at the Royal Poinciana in West Palm Beach, FL.
Arthur won a Tony Award as Vera Charles in Broadway's Mame. She played the matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof (her part was substantially cut on the road, and Arthur has choice words for late director Jerome Robbins in her show). She also appeared in the famed Theatre de Lys staging of The Threepenny Opera Off-Broadway in 1954 (she sings "Pirate Jenny" in Bea Arthur on Broadway). Arthur's last Broadway show was Woody Allen's The Floating Lightbulb.
Composer Goldenberg is best known for his film work ("The Last of Sheila," "Play It Again, Sam") but he also wrote the music for The Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (also known as Ballroom) and An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, and served as dance music arranger for such musicals as Greenwillow and High Spirits.
Mark Waldrop directs Just Between Friends.
The cast album includes the musical numbers "Fun to Be Fooled," "What Can You Get a Nudist for Her Birthday?," "Isn't He Adorable," "Let's Face The Music And Dance," "Bosom Buddies," "Pirate Jenny," "It Never Was You," "And Then There's Maude," "Some People," "Where Do You Start?," "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin' On It!," "Who Cares," "Fifty Percent," "You're Gonna Hear From Me," "The Chance to Sing," "The Man in the Moon Is a Lady."
For tickets ($50-$65) and information on Bea Arthur On Broadway call (212) 239-6200.