First there was Vaudeville. Then there was Burlesque. Now, there are Chekhov Vaudevilles in a former Burlesque Palace. In one of the strangest marriages of material and real estate to reach the theatre in years, the Off-Off-Broadway producing theatre, Nada, has taken over the former Midtown porn palace, Show World. Renaming it Nada Show World, the theatre will present, beginning Feb. 29, a festival of early comic plays by Anton Chekhov.
The Chekhov works, often referred to as "Vaudevilles," will be presented in three different spaces, no doubt named with an eye toward the building's previous life: the Go Go Room, The Big Top and The Mezz. The festival will begin on Feb. 29 in The Big Top with The Chekhov Sketchbook, a piece adapted by Joseph Buloff and Luba Kadesen from the Russian's diaries. On the same evening, Chekhov's The Bear and Swan Song, both from 1888, will be seen in the Go Go Room. (All the Vaudevilles will be performed as double bills.)
Chekhov spent the early part of his theatre career writing farces and comic plays. Often the works were based upon his short stories. The other Chekhov Vaudevilles to be seen in the Nada Show World festival include The Proposal, The Jubilee, Tatyanna Repina, On the High Road, The Wedding, On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco, New York Hamlet, In Moscow, Tragedian in Spite of Himself and The Night Before the Trial. Chekhov would write his first great play, The Seagull, in 1896.
The 11 productions will be directed by Beall and 10 guest directors.
Pantheon Productions, the professional theatre company roosting in the second floor of Show World, opens Love Honor & Obey, a dark comedy by Sergio Cacciotti, on Feb. 8. Tickets are $15. Nada Show World is located at 42nd and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. For information, call (212) 586-7829.
--By Robert Simonson