T. Ryder Smith, who's been with Off-Broadway's Underneath the Lintel since its first preview Oct. 13, will ride past the doorpost Jan. 13 and make way for another actor, David Chandler, who takes over in the one-man show Jan. 15. Chandler's Broadway credits include Lost in Yonkers and The American Clock, and he's worked at several Off-Broadway venues, including New York heatre Workshop and the Vineyard.
Though Underneath the Lintel, which officially opened Oct. 23, never had an actual closing date, had the Off-Broadway show not received good reviews and positive word of mouth, it would've closed by now. Instead, the producers, Scott Morfee, Dana Matthow and Tom Wirtshafter, went on record in early January affirming that the show was in an open run until mid-April. Now they're being a bit more definite, saying the show is scheduled to run through April 14.
"The show's doing really well," a Shirley Herz office spokesperson had told Playbill On-Line, confirming a New York Times mention of the "extension." "Ticket sales are going up."
A scholar investigating and piecing together events of long ago has been a theme of works as disparate as Arcadia and "Citizen Kane." Now the idea can be found in a one-man show, penned by Glen Berger and starring T. Ryder Smith (replacing previously announced Brian T. Finney), arriving at Off-Broadway's Soho Playhouse Oct. 13 for an opening there Oct. 23.
Up to the last minute, the show was to have begun previews Sept. 18 and open Sept. 30 (the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on NYC's World Trade Center had not altered the production's playing schedule). But a spokesperson told PBOL that because the theatre was located in "the frozen zone" in the vicinity of Ground Zero, the stage was inaccessible to the actors and crew, and performances needed to be delayed. Underneath the Lintel, directed by Randy White, tells of a librarian who notices that a book left in the return slot is 123 years overdue. That the book would have racked up (according PBOL's calculations, made at 10 cents a day for roughly 365 days per year for 123 years) approximately $4,489.50 in late fees is of less interest to the protagonist than the story behind its disappearance. He travels, Dave Gorman-like, to various international cities just to piece together the narrative of this wandering Jew.
As the Shirley Herz office press release puts it, the librarian then "rents stage time to present impressive evidence...that many years ago, underneath a lintel, one man told another man to `shove off.'
Playwright Berger is also author of the much-produced Great Men of Science Nos. 21 & 22, a Best Play Ovation Award-winner for its L.A. mounting. Canadian-born director White founded the Live Bait Theatre in Sackville, NB.
For tickets ($40) and information on Underneath the Lintel at the Soho Playhouse: 15 Vandam St., call (212) 239-6200.
— By David Lefkowitz