She didn't collapse in the apse, but Carol Burnett did suffer a muscle strain injury that kept her out of Broadway's Putting it Together for more than a week. Kathie Lee Gifford, who had been doing one show per week since the start, has filled in since Feb. 5, but Burnett returns beginning with the Wednesday matinee Feb. 16. Alas, her fans have only a few more days to catch her; the Sondheim revue closes Feb. 20.
Burnett's absence is yet another in a musical that, despite having only five performers, has had a tough time putting them together. Bronson Pinchot tore a calf muscle and was out of the show Dec. 14, 1999-Jan. 13, 2000. George Hearn also missed a few days in January, with understudy John Jellison taking over.
As for the show's fate, mixed reviews and middling grosses hurt its chances, and the producers also apparently felt they couldn't find a suitable star to replace Burnett when her contract ran out. The revue of Stephen Sondheim songs also features Ruthie Henshall and John Barrowman.
The tuner, with more than 30 Sondheim songs in a conceptual, abstract cocktail party setting, opened Nov. 21, 1999. Previews began Oct. 30 at the Barrymore Theatre.
* Putting It Together (which pulls its title from a song in Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park With George) has its roots in a 1992 English production devised by Sondheim and Julia McKenzie. She directed that version at the Old Fire Station, Oxford, England , and Cameron Mackintosh, who nurtured Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, produced.
The show had its New York City premiere in 1993 at Manhattan Theatre Club, by special arrangement with Mackintosh. Julie Andrews led a McKenzie-directed cast.
Now, Andrews' old pal, Burnett, is in the role of The Wife. The stock characters in the Broadway production are known as The Husband (Hearn), The Younger Man (Barrowman), The Younger Woman (Henshall) and The Observer (Pinchot).
This new production, choreographed by Bob Avian (Miss Saigon) is an extension of an October-December 1998 staging seen at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. The creative team for the California run was the same, but John McCook played The Husband and Susan Egan (Triumph of Love) was The Younger Woman.
The two-act Putting It Together includes 33 songs and an entr'acte (orchestrated by longtime Sondheim collaborator Jonathan Tunick). Shows represented include The Frogs, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park With George, Into the Woods, Assassins, the film "Dick Tracy" and the unproduced TV musical, "Do You Hear a Waltz?"
Putting Together together are designers Bob Crowley (set and costumes), Howard Harrison (lighting), Andrew Bruce and Mark Menard (sound). Burnett's costume is by Bob Mackie. Wendall K. Harrington provides projections. Paul Raiman is musical director.
For ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.