One of New York City's most popular musical theatre revival series, York Theatre Company's Musicals in Mufti, serves up the high style of Noel Coward's The Girl Who Came to Supper, Sept. 17-19.
The cast includes Celeste Holm (Oklahoma!) as the Queen Mother, Simon Jones is the Prince, Nancy Anderson (most recently the title role in Goodspeed-at-Chester as Fanny Hill) as the showgirl, Mary Morgan, Evalyn Baron as Ada Cockle, a cockney street busker, Stephen Mo Hanan as Northbrook, the Prince's supercilious chief-of-staff.
The Girl Who Came to Supper (1963) was Coward's last Broadway show. Drawn from Terrence Rattigan's The Sleeping Prince, with a book by Harry Kurnitz, its songs are by Coward. Florence Henderson and Jose Ferrer starred on Broadway. The play also inspired the film, "The Prince and the Show Girl," with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe.
Michael Montel, who staged Mufti's Darling of the Day last season, directs.
The Mufti series, as per the title, is presented in street clothes with no set, and is best described as a concert series, with performances of the entire script of shows. Musical theatre buffs have flocked to the limited runs in past seasons because the focus is on obscure, overlooked or "underappreciated" shows that deserve another gander, according to artistic director James Morgan. Each of the three productions in the Mufti series run five performances.
Also on the Mufti series:
• Destry Rides Again, Harold Rome's 1959 stage musical version of the story and films that came before it, about a sheriff, a villain and a vamp saloon performer. Leonard Gershe wrote the book. Andy Griffith and Delores Gray starred in the original. This concert revival stars Jim Newman as Destry, Alison Fraser as Frenchie, Patty Mariano as Clara, Bill Buell as Wash and Gary Lynch as Kent. Pamela Hunt will direct. It plays Sept. 24-26.
According to Erik Haagensen, who is working at the York this season, the musical is historically significant "as the first Broadway musical to present a serious interracial romance." He told Playbill On-Line, "When Alfred Drake kissed Jet MacDonald, immediate and nightly walk outs occurred."
It played 111 performances. The original cast featured Alfred Drake as Macheath and, in his Broadway debut, Zero Mostel. Casting for the York concert presentation is being finalized. The director is Kent Gash, a regional director (Theatre Virginia, Alabama Shakespeare Festival). It plays Oct. 1-3.
A cast recording of the Mufti series concert of the satiric 1920s-set musical, Billion Dollar Baby, is expected to be released later this year. Kristin Chenoweth starred. The score is by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Morton Gould.
The York Theatre Company is at the Theatre at Saint Peter's, Citicorp Center, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street, in Manhattan. Call (212) 935-5824 for information.
-- By Kenneth Jones