Lawrence Leritz, the show's choreographer and co-producer, told Playbill On-Line he fully expects the show to have the kind of presence regionally that Nunsense, Forever Plaid and Forbidden Broadway does. Coincidentally, all three of those shows had runs at The Triad, the friendly cabaret space on 72nd Street.
MOL Records will record the New York cast album Aug. 19 for a fall release.
There are negotiations for a fall 2003 Chicago production and a 2004 London staging, Leritz said. A Miami run is expected and there is international interest. In her day, songwriter Wallis' records were popular in England, Australia and New Zealand, even though her discs had a history of being confiscated in Australia, Leritz explained.
What's the secret of success for the show with the naughtiest title in town? Leritz said it's the crossover appeal. Despite the dirty double entendre song titles and content, the staging is nice as can be.
"The songs are really pretty clean," Leritz said. "When people ask about buying tickets, they ask if there's any cussing. I say, 'No, all the dirtyness is in your mind.' It totally plays to a huge audience. We have 20-year-olds on dates and we have senior citizens who have Ruth Wallis records in their attic." Kids attend the show and see a man wearing a costume of a little boat around him for "The Dinghy Song" (arguably songwriter-comedienne Wallis' best-known song). Their parents and grandparents like the song for another reason.
"He's got the cutest little dinghy in the Navy, and all the girlies know that it's so," goes the song. "Just for a lark he went and painted it green. It's the only green dinghy that the girls have ever seen."
Leritz said it was a pleasure creating the numbers on stage. Although there is a book to the show, by Steve Mackes and co-producer Michael Whaley, Leritz said the experience is essentially a musical revue (subtitled The World According to Ruth Wallis) that tells the story of Wallis and her career in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.
The 20 or so numbers — presented by a company of six — are the focus of the show. It's the sort of production where the song, "Pizza," includes a girl wearing a dress shaped like a pizza pie.
"It's the hit every night, and she's chased around for a slice," Leritz said. "The costume designers made the front slice removable..."
Donna Drake directs the staging, which began May 8 and opened May 19 at The Triad, 158 W. 72nd Street. The cast (slightly changed from the spring) includes Brad Bradley, Kristy Cates, Tim Cross, J. Brandon Savage, Kelly Anne Wilson and Rebecca Young.
Wallis, who is now a widowed "sweet little grandmother living in Connecticut," according to Leritz, was a sensation overseas and in Canada, but her self-produced records were never played on the radio in the U.S.; they were considered smut in the era of postwar conformity.
A compilation disc of Wallis' original recordings was recently released under the title "Boobs: Ruth Wallis' Greatest Hits." The 19-track CD includes "Drill 'Em All," "Queer Things," "Marriage Jewish Style," "Freddie the Fisherman's Son," "The Pop-Up Song," "The Bell Song," "The Same Little Yo-Yo," "De Gay Young Lad," "Hawaiian Lei Song" and more. She is billed as "the queen of the party records."
The revue includes one serious song, "All the Clowns," which Leritz said is another highlight of the show because it's so unexpected.
Boobs! The Musical came about when Wallis made a call to the powerful agency ICM to pitch a musical using her songs. Mitch Douglas at ICM had been a longtime fan and gathered a creative team together. A workshop in 2000 was popular and led to the current staging, with wild costumes by Robert Pease (who is also a co-producer) and J. Kevin Draves. Eric Harriz is the set designer. Stephen Bocchino handles musical direction and arrangements. Bobby Harrell is lighting designer. Wig design is by Corvette.
According to her show bio, "Ruth is a veteran of 10 comedy albums, which sold worldwide for over two decades. She traveled extensively, as an international star doing her own songs and appeared in top supper clubs in Las Vegas, Miami and was a sensation and sell out on her tours of Australia, London and New Zealand. In the '60s, her albums enjoyed great success and were released on her own Wallis Originals label. 'The Dinghy Song' sold 250,000 copies. She has also turned her vast talents to creating several scripts for the musical comedy stage."
For ticket information, call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.boobsthemusical.com.