Back in March 1998, producer David Brown was hoping to bring "A Bea Arthur Evening" to Broadway that season. That show never materialized, but now Arthur fans and wannaBeas can take heart: the "Maude" and "Golden Girls" star, who's been touring a one-woman show to 26 cities, is likely to reach Broadway in late January or early February 2002.
Daryl Roth, Ostar Theatricals and Bev Bartner are producing ...And Then There's Bea, With Her Friend Billy Goldenberg at the Piano, which opened at Minneapolis, MN's Guthrie Theatre April 24-29. The show charts Arthur's theatre and TV career through songs and anecdotes, with Richard Maltby, Jr. serving as production consultant.
Producer Roth told Playbill On-Line Nov. 14 the Arthur solo will most likely reach the Booth Theatre for a six-week run, with an extension possible if all goes well. "The title will definitely change, to something very direct, more simple," Roth said, "but otherwise it's the show that's been on tour. Very simple design — a chair and a piano. Basic Bea, with Billy Goldenberg at the piano." Matt Berman, the tour's lighting designer, would repeat his duties on Broadway.
The current tour ends Jan. 6 in Phoenix, with no cities currently scheduled after the New York stint. Remaining dates/venues include:
Dec. 11-23: West Palm, FL: Royal Poinciana
Dec. 26-30: Thousand Oaks, CA: Civic Arts Plaza
Jan. 2-6, 2002: Phoenix, AZ: Orpheum Theatre "It's reminiscences, storytelling, her career," Roth has said of the Arthur solo, "with songs that are meaningful to her." Arthur told the Houston Chronicle (Nov. 2001), "It's a collection of songs and stories I've saved over the yeras... These are things that mean a lot to me that I'd like to share — and I hope not to bore you, because that is unforgivable."
Actress Arthur got her start in the original production of The Threepenny Opera in 1954 and was the original Yente the Matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof. Her work as Vera Charles in Mame led to a Tony Award, while her work in "Maude" led to a 1977 Emmy. Arthur's last Broadway show was Woody Allen's The Floating Lightbulb.
Composer Goldenberg is best known for his film work ("The Last of Sheila," "Play It Again, Sam") but he also wrote the music for The Queen of the Stardust Ballroom and An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, before serving as dance music arranger for such musicals as Greenwillow and High Spirits. He's currently working with The Fantasticks' Tom Jones on a musical adaptation of "Harold and Maude." Producer Roth is also expecting to stage Edward Albee's latest, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? on Broadway in the early spring.