The best of times may indeed be now for composer-lyricist Jerry Herman.
Liz Smith recently interviewed the award-winning composer, who revealed that the Nederlander Organization is planning to mount productions of three Herman classics: Mame, La Cage aux Folles and Hello, Dolly!.
Herman explained that Mame will be the first to make it to Broadway, probably next year. The original version starred Angela Lansbury as everyone's favorite aunt; Lansbury won a Tony Award for her performance. Based on both the novel "Auntie Mame" by Patrick Dennis and Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's play of the same title, the musical featured a score by Herman and a book by Lawrence and Lee. Gene Saks directed a cast that also included Beatrice Arthur, Jane Connell, Frankie Michaels and Willard Waterman. The long-running musical played 1,508 performances; some of the other women who took on the title role included Celeste Holm, Ann Miller, Jane Morgan, Janis Paige and Sheila Smith.
Herman also told the gossip maven that the new musical revue Showtune — which will debut at Nyack's Helen Hayes Theatre Company Oct. 12 — may be headed for an Off-Broadway Theatre after its limited run at the Hayes. The revue, which features songs from a slew of Herman musicals, stars Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie and former Baby star Martin Vidnovic.
In related news: On Oct. 10 Jerry Herman presented his Hello, Dolly! star, Carol Channing, with the first star for the upcoming Broadway Walk of Stars in the Times Square area. Herman said that Channing "was the sister he never had." When Arlene Dahl, who spearheaded the Broadway Walk of Stars campaign, asked Channing if she knew why she had been selected as the first recipient, the star quipped, "Yes, because everyone else is dead." Channing said she accepted the award on the behalf of the many stars who were no longer with us, including Ethel Merman, Mary Martin and Gwen Verdon.
—By Andrew Gans