Dear World May Revolve With Chita at Roundabout, But Not This Season

News   Dear World May Revolve With Chita at Roundabout, But Not This Season
 
Dear World, Jerry Herman's musicalization of The Madwoman of Chaillot, is being considered for a 30th-anniversary spin by the Roundabout Theatre, but that would come in the 1999-00 season. One of the original Jerry's Girls, Chita Rivera, has been pegged to star.

Dear World, Jerry Herman's musicalization of The Madwoman of Chaillot, is being considered for a 30th-anniversary spin by the Roundabout Theatre, but that would come in the 1999-00 season. One of the original Jerry's Girls, Chita Rivera, has been pegged to star.

In the meantime, actress, singer, dancer and Broadway legend Rivera is still looking to bring her revue Chita & All That Jazz to Broadway sometime this fall. She's currently performing the show in Atlantic City at Resorts International, where it will play until Aug. 23. It has previously toured in Richmond, Baltimore, Norfork, and San Francisco. The production was first announced for a spring 1998 opening Broadway, but producers said no appropriate theatre was available.

As for Dear World, director Scott Ellis pulled together a workshop to that effect and put the project into rehearsal Mar. 30 for a staged reading presentation two weeks later. David Thomson, who worked with Ellis on And the World Goes 'Round and Steel Pier, is revising the musical's book, which Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee adapted from the famous Jean Giradoux play.

The original Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Joe Layton and produced by Alexander H. Cohen, opened Feb. 6, 1969, at the Mark Hellinger Theatre and ran only 132 performances -- but this was enough for Angela Lansbury to win the second of her eventual four Tony Awards. Should Dear World open on Broadway in the 1999-00 season, Rivera could conceivably be pitted against Lansbury in The Visit -- also announced for that season -- come awards time.

The show reunited La Lansbury with her Mame authors, but it suffered from comparison, although Herman's score is still hailed as one of his most melodic; some of the songs have gone on to become cult favorites and evergreens ("And I Was Beautiful," "I Don't Want To Know," "I've Never Said I Love You," "Kiss Her Now," "One Person," the title tune, et al). A dream cast, almost all Tony winners, is being assembled to support Rivera's Countess Aurelia. Reportedly, Debra (Ah, Wilderness!) Monk and Madeline (The Sisters Rosensweig) Kahn will play Gabrielle and Constance, the other two madwomen originated by Jane Connell and Carmen Matthews; Audra (Ragtime) MacDonald is being sought for the Pamela Hall part of Nina. In Milo O'Shea's role of Sewerman would be Alfred Molina, who is in Art through the summer.

"We're just going to work on it the first two weeks in April," says Ellis. "Then, we'll do the reading and see how it feels, see what we have."

Rivera told Playbill On-Line (Mar. 12), "We'll bring it in [to NY] but not until we get it perfect."

-- By David Lefkowitz

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