Off-Broadway's Pete 'n' Keely, the musical comedy parody that reunites a fictional divorced singing couple for a 1968 TV special, has Phyllis Diller, Charo and Jo Anne Worley lined up for special appearances.
The celebs, billed as "special guests," will perform the sort of material they were associated with in 1968, in both acts, livening the proceedings of the new work by playwright James Hindman and director-lyricist Mark Waldrop. Don't expect George W. Bush jokes; look for timeless material.
George Dvorsky plays Pete Bartel and Sally Mayes is Keely Stevens, onetime marrieds who spar and sing on a live TV special that recounts their romance and musical careers. In the conceit, the singers have not spoken since their breakup at Caesars Palace five years earlier.
Comedian Diller, 83, appears Feb. 6-11, comic actress Jo Anne Worley ("Laugh-In," Annie, Grease!) appears Feb. 13-18 and Latin-music singer-guitarist Charo (known for her zaftig figure and "coochie coochie" jokes of the 1970s), appears Feb. 20-March 4, at the John Houseman Theatre on 42nd Street.
Pete 'n' Keely, produced by Steve Asher, David Unger and Avalon Entertainment, began previews Dec. 2, 2000, and opened Dec. 14. Conceived by Hindman, Waldrop and musical director Patrick Brady, and written by Hindman, the musical comedy puts cabaret star and Tony Award-nominated actress Mayes (Closer Than Ever, She Loves Me) in a fake "live TV" event where she sings and sneers at Dvorsky (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Paper Mill Playhouse's Anything Goes). Song hits from the 1950s and 1960s, plus original tunes, punctuate the production. Director Waldrop helmed When Pigs Fly and Bette Midler's recent concert tour. Keith Cromwell choreographs. Among the musical numbers in the show are "Besame Mucho," Burke and Van Heusen's "But Beautiful," "Fever," Rodgers and Hart's "Lover," Steve Allen's "This Could Be the Start of Something Big," and new tunes by Brady and Waldrop, including "Kid Stuff," "Tony & Cleo" (a trimmed version of a fake Broadway musical Pete and Keely starred in, based on Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra), "Too Fat to Fit," "Wasn't It Fine," "Have You Got a Lot to Learn," "Hello, Egypt!," and more.
Bob Mackie, known for his outrageous work on "The Carol Burnett Show," is costume designer. Ray Klausen (Waiting in the Wings) is scenic designer. Lighting design is by F. Mitchell Dana. Patrick S. Brady is Mayes' longtime cabaret collaborator, and contributes original music and serves as arranger and musical director. He recently served as musical director and conductor for Fosse.
To view Playbill On-Line's Brief Encounter Q&A with Sally Mayes, click here.
Pete 'n' Keely tickets are $55. The John Houseman Theatre is at 450 W. 42nd Street (between Ninth and Tenth avenues). For tickets, call (212) 239-6200. Visit the Pete 'n' Keely website at www.petenkeely.com.
— By Kenneth Jones