Edson's Wit Eschews Helen Hayes; Vows to Stay Off-Broadway

News   Edson's Wit Eschews Helen Hayes; Vows to Stay Off-Broadway
 
Wit will remain at its Off-Broadway home at the Union Square Theatre and will not attempt a move to Broadway.

Wit will remain at its Off-Broadway home at the Union Square Theatre and will not attempt a move to Broadway.

Since the Hayes' current resident, Band in Berlin, announced it would close March 21, rumors have run rampant that Wit, which once sought to play at the Hayes, would again try for the theatre. Press spokesperson Erin Dunn told Playbill On-Line (March 18), however, the producers of Wit met late on March 17 and decided unanimously to stay at the Union Square. Dunn said the drama is playing to near-capacity crowds at that theatre. Wit, which began its life at the Off- Broadway MCC Theatre last fall, recently recouped its investment.

Dunn added that Wit never, in fact, received an offer from the Helen Hayes owner, Martin Markinson, to move to the intimate theatre, and that the last-minute meeting was held mainly to formulate a response to a possible proposal offer.

The decision leaves the Goodspeed Opera House's production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, By Jeeves, as the leading contender for the much sought-after Hayes.

The Goodspeed has for months had plans to bring its production of By Jeeves to New York. Last December, Playbill On-Line learned that Goodspeed executive director Michael Price and Lloyd Webber were looking at Broadway houses with an eye to opening Jeeves in time for the Tony deadline April 28. The Goodspeed has also discussed with the Roundabout Theatre Company the possibility of including Jeeves in their season, said Goodspeed spokesperson Jennifer Wislocki. She added, however, that the talks did not go far, and the prospect was unlikely.

Reached March 17, Wislocki said the Goodspeed had not reached a decision concerning By Jeeves or the Helen Hayes.

Lloyd Webber et al may have been encouraged to act on By Jeeves by the thus-far tepid showing among new musicals this season. Wislocki said she didn't know whether the paucity of Broadway musical offerings had influenced the Goodspeed's decision but admitted she "had heard talk along those lines."

Among the other viable small-cast or one-set shows which may be in the running for the Hayes are Christopher Durang's critically-embraced Betty's Summer Vacation (extended at Playwrights Horizons to April 11). Commercial producers have been in to inspect the show, said press spokesman James Morrison.

When Band in Berlin closes on March 21, it will have played 19 previews and 17 regular performances.

--By Robert Simonson and Kenneth Jones

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