Roooosemaaarry..." crooned J. Pierrepont Finch in the classic How To Succeed in Business.... But Ponty's girlfriend may not be the last woman with that name to achieve musical theatre notoriety. Not if Blake Edwards has anything to say about it.
The co-author and director of Victor/Victoria has penned a new play titled Big Rosemary, which will have its world premiere try out Feb. 12-March 7 (officially opening Feb. 13) at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack, New York. The show will have nine songs -- old tunes from the 1920s.
The prohibition-era gangster farce, to be directed by its author, tells of a mob boss in love with a nightclub singer. She loves a policeman, but when the mobster dies, he leaves her in charge of his crime empire.
Back in July 1998, producer Tony Adams confirmed that Cady Huffman (of Will Rogers Follies fame) has been involved with workshops on the piece, and she will, indeed, star in the Hayes Center tryout. Huffman received a Tony nomination for playing "Ziegfeld's Favorite" in The Will Rogers Follies. Other Broadway credits include La Cage aux Folles and Big Deal.
Also in the cast are Sam Coppola (That Championship Season), Caitlin Carter (Chicago), George de la Pena (The Red Shoes) and Tony nominee Lara Teeter (On Your Toes, MSG's The Wizard of Oz). Edwards is best known as a film director, with the Pink Panther series, "10," "Mickey & Maude" and "S.O.B." among his credits. Asked why, after all those years of success in movies he would turn to the risks and headaches of live theatre, Edwards replied in a statement, "Who wouldn't want to do the stage? I had not done it before [Victor/Victoria], and I'm married to a woman who should come back to the stage -- that was a big part of it... And I make it a policy to do what God puts in front of me. God or the janitor or whoever!"
For tickets ($22-$37) and information on Big Rosemary at the Helen Hayes PAC, call (914) 358-6333.
-- By David Lefkowitz