Durang's Vacation Hopes for Summer at OB's Minetta Lane

News   Durang's Vacation Hopes for Summer at OB's Minetta Lane Christopher Durang's praised Betty's Summer Vacation -- which, in various forms and with various producers, has been trying to land a commercial gig since the biting satire opened to mostly rave reviews at Playwrights Horizons in spring 2000 -- may be close to finding an Off Broadway home. The theatre? The recently-vacated Minetta Lane, Durang's preference from the very beginning.

Christopher Durang's praised Betty's Summer Vacation -- which, in various forms and with various producers, has been trying to land a commercial gig since the biting satire opened to mostly rave reviews at Playwrights Horizons in spring 2000 -- may be close to finding an Off Broadway home. The theatre? The recently-vacated Minetta Lane, Durang's preference from the very beginning.

Bernard Telsey told Playbill On-Line that he hoped the play would go into the Minetta Lane sometime this summer. Telsey, Robert LuPone and Roy Gabay form the production team backing the new mounting of Vacation. Telsey and Lupone are the co-artistic directors of Off Broadway's MCC Theatre.

Original director Nicholas Martin would be free to repeat his work on the play, Telsey said, despite commitments at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Bay Street Theatre and the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, where he is now artistic director. As for actress Kristine Nielsen, who was perhaps the performer most responsible for the play's original success, she is currently playing a doomed princess in Julie Taymor's The Green Bird. Sources close to the production say she could easily excuse herself from her contract.

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Thunder Knocking on the Door, the blues fable about the Devil and a guitar-licks competition, has been rumbling in regional theatres for several years, and it was finally set to boom in New York City this spring. Producer Mitchell Maxwell had booked the play-with-music into Off Broadway's Minetta Lane Theatre, with previews to start May 12 for an opening June 11. However, Maxwell and his fellow producers have now canceled the venture. "We planned a run of eight performances at the Stamford Center for the Arts in late April," said Maxwell in a statement, "to determine the extent of the work needed on the show before moving to Off-Broadway. Despite positive notices and enthusiastic audience response at a variety of regional theatres, my producing partners and I agreed that...it was not up to the standards of a more discerning New York audience. We did not believe that the artistic collaboration needed to bring it to this level was possible."

--By Robert Simonson
and David Lefkowitz