Book Club Not Yet Read-y for Bway

News   Book Club Not Yet Read-y for Bway Still on the to-do list for producers Bill Haber and Kathleen Raitt is the one-person comedy, The Book Club, which they hope to bring to Broadway in the months ahead. Haber and Wright took out an option (U.S. And U.K.) on the solo show penned by one of New Zealand's most popular theatre writers, Roger Hall.

Still on the to-do list for producers Bill Haber and Kathleen Raitt is the one-person comedy, The Book Club, which they hope to bring to Broadway in the months ahead. Haber and Wright took out an option (U.S. And U.K.) on the solo show penned by one of New Zealand's most popular theatre writers, Roger Hall.

Back in March, Raitt told Playbill On-Line, "We optioned it eight months ago... We'd like to make it an `event' on Broadway, but for that we need the right actress. We would do it immediately pending the right star and the right theatre, but we don't want to rush it."

Little has changed since then, with Raitt telling PBOL (July 25) she was still "in the midst of trying to cast" the piece, which "hinges on getting the right person."

Hall's plays, which include Middle-Age Spread, Conjugal Rites and Glide Time, generally look at ordinary middle-class life. His 1998 autobiography, "Bums On Seats," covers his schoolyears and difficult relationship with his gambling father, as well as his backstage travails in theatre and on television.

Two other Haber-Raitt projects, the musicals Storyville and Nothing in Common, are also in a holding pattern. "Any of them could pop at any time," said Raitt, "providing the right cast, the right director, the right theatre come together." Nothing in Common, previously titled Nicolette and Aucassin, was staged at Westport Country Playhouse August-September 2000. The "rose by any other name" theme of Peter Kellogg and David Friedman's musical is especially apt, since producer Kathleen Raitt likes to think of the musical as "Romeo and Juliet without the death."

Raitt had told PBOL (March 6) the show was "a great success" at Westport and that she and co-producers Bill Haber, Joe Davis and Bill Suter are "formulating plans for next season. We've had a lot of offers, and we'll probably go out of town first. But we're trying to decide the best route."

The producers are currently searching for a director (Seth Barish staged the piece at Westport) for the all-in-rhyme, ten-character tuner. Karma Camp would choreograph, and the producers hope Westport cast-members Bronson Pinchot, Chuck Cooper, Nancy Anderson and Richard White will remain with the project.

Friedman told Playbill On-Line at the time that N&A had been workshopped in New York City but that the Westport staging represented the musical's first production. Friedman is well known in the musical theatre, film and cabaret worlds. He is a former Broadway conductor and has also conducted and arranged the scores for many Disney animated films. Additionally, he penned many songs for the late cabaret singer Nancy LaMott. N&A is his first major musical as a composer.

As for Storyville, a twisty love story between a quadroon and an adventurer set in Louisiana's fabled red light district at the turn of the previous century, was penned by Judith Paige Mitchell. Martin Silvestri is the composer, and Joel Higgins (yes, the "Silver Spoons" actor) is the lyricist.

Asked about the project, producer Raitt told Playbill On-Line (March 6), "We're in the second year of the developmental stage. We had a first reading of it in December [2000]." Matt Lenz, associate director on Beauty and the Beast, staged the reading, with Patrick Vaccariello serving as musical director. Reading participants included Tamara Tunie, Steve Blanchard, Eddie Korbich (Sweeney Todd, Carousel, Seussical) and Lawrence Clayton.

--By David Lefkowitz