The Cape Playhouse on Dennis, MA, will enliven its Sunday afternoons this summer with a new "Weekend Series." On various Sundays through July and August, a disparate range of artists will perform their one-person shows.
The program begins with movie and stage musical veteran Nanette Fabray. On July 8, at 4 PM and 7 PM, she will regale audiences with songs and reminiscences of her showbiz days — presumedly touching upon her role in the classic MGM flick "The Band Wagon."
On July 22 at 5 PM, author and all-around raconteur Malachy McCourt will spin yarns about his by-now-well-known childhood growing up poor and happy in Ireland. McCourt is the author of the memoir "A Monk Swimming" and is the brother of Frank McCourt ("Angela's Ashes"). Finally, on Aug. 5, monologuist Spalding Gray will bring his most recent monologue Morning, Noon and Night to the playhouse for one show only at 4 PM.
The Cape Playhouse's anniversary gala will occur Aug. 19. Many veterans of the theatre are expected to attend.
* As previously announced, Estelle Parsons will play the family matriarch in the August production of A.R. Gurney's The Cocktail Hour at the Cape Playhouse. She will star opposite Judd Nelson (TV's "Suddenly Susan") and Louise Sorrel, under the direction of Russell Treyz.
Actress Parsons starred in Hartford Stage's 1998 production of Happy Days. She won an Oscar for "Bonnie and Clyde" and was nominated again for Paul Newman's "Rachel, Rachel." Other films include "Dick Tracy," "Boys on the Side," "That Darn Cat," and "Looking for Richard." She also played Roseanne's mother Bev on "Roseanne."
History repeats itself at the Cape Playhouse this summer as Broadway and Off-Broadway hits of the past are revisited by the stars originally connected to them.
The season will open with a revival of the Edward Gorey-designed production of Dracula, starring Jean LeClerc, who played the caped one on Broadway. Later on in the season, original 42nd Street star Lee Roy Reams will direct and choreograph a new revival of the "all singing, all-dancing" musical. Also, the hit 1980's Off Broadway musical Oil City Symphony will be resurrected by members of its original creative team.
The summer schedule also features plays by Alan Ayckbourn, A.R. Gurney and Beth Henley, and performances by Rue McClanahan and Morrow Wilson.
Dracula was a surprise hit on Broadway in 1977, aided not a little by Gorey's striking and macabre black-and-white (with a dash of red) scenic and costume designs. Gorey, a longtime resident of Cape Cod, died last spring at the age of 75. The drama starred Frank Langella as the count. Several actors succeeded him in the role, including Jean LeClerc, who will recreate his performance at the Cape Playhouse June 18-30. Kenneth Elliot directs the Hamilton Deane-John L. Halderston script.
Dracula had barely closed on Broadway, when the spectacular David Merrick musical 42nd Street opened, with Lee Roy Reams starring as Billy Lawlor. Reams takes another look at the show that remains his best-known credit, when he stages and choreographs a new revival at Playhouse, July 30-Aug. 11. 42nd Street recently returned to Broadway in the form of a lavish new mounting by director Mark Bramble and choreographer Randy Skinner.
McClanahan and Morrow Wilson will star in Ayckbourn's Communicating Doors, the time-tripping thriller that ran Off-Broadway a few years back. Pamela Hunt will direct.
Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley, which recently concluded an Off-Broadway revival at Second Stage, will be directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. Sandy Duncan will star at the eldest of the Southern MaGrath sisters.
Finally, the musical Oil City Symphony—which was written by Mike Carver, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk and Mary Murfitt—will "be staged by and star some of the original Off-Broadway cast members." The show, about a high school reunion between four former classmates, opened Off Broadway at Circle in the Square Downtown in 1987.
The 2001 schedule runs as follows:
• Dracula by Hamilton Deane and John L. Halderston, June 18-30
• Communicating Doors by Alan Ayckbourn, July 2-14, starring Rue McClanahan, Morrow Wilson and Mim Drew.
• Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley, July 16-28 with Sandy Duncan, Allison Briner and Haviland Morris.
• 42nd Street, July 30-Aug. 11
• The Cocktail Hour by A.R. Gurney, Aug. 13-25
• Oil City Symphony, Aug. 27-Sept. 8
The Playhouse was founded by Raymond Moore. The quaint, white shingled, 600-seat theatre was built in 1838 and features a wrap-around balcony. Among the many noteworthy productions to be staged there over the years was a 1937 Hamlet starring Eva LeGallienne in the title role and Uta Hagen, in her professional debut, as Ophelia.
Tickets run $15-$35. The Cape Playhouse is located in Dennis, MA, at 820 Route 6A. For more information, call (508) 385-3911.
—By Robert Simonson