The works are billed as being "about life in the new millennium, including middle-aged men longing to dance, married couples longing for sex and aging singles looking for love."
The first play, Curtain Raiser, treats audiences to J. Smith-Cameron in a rare dancing role and musical-comedy man Eddie Korbich doing some straight acting. Korbich is Keith, an overweight former chorus boy, who coaxes Gloria (Smith-Cameron), a tough but shy lesbian, to overcome her reluctance to dance in public during a Saturday night in New York City.
The middle work, Giving Up Smoking, looks at the the foibles and intertwined lives of four New Yorkers (Joanne, Sherman, Kathleen and Mel) through a series of monologues about loneliness, social anxiety and the struggle for hope and connection in an increasingly complicated world. Berlin—who has spent much of her career interpreting her mother's work—plays Joanne, who is ignoring calls from best friend Sherman (Berns), because she is waiting for a call from possible mate Mel (Kerwin). Smith-Cameron is Kathleen, Sherman's mother.
Finally, Swing Time, is about two middle-aged married couples (Mitzi and Darryl, and Gail and Ron) who attempt to carry out a pre-arranged sexual foursome. Berlin plays Gail, Kerwin plays Ron, Burns is Darryl, Smith-Cameron is Mitzi. The title of the entire evening would seem to be drawn from the lyric of "You and the Night and the Music," a song by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz. The lyric goes: "You and the night and the music/Thrill me, but will we be one,/After the night and the music/Are done?" The tune, sung by Frank Sinatra, is played during the third one-act.
Elaine May began in The Second City where she formed a successful partnership with Mike Nichols. The two appeared in clubs, on TV and on Broadway. After their split, May earned a Drama Desk Award for her play Adaptation, a one-act which she directed along with Terrence McNally's Next. She wrote, directed and starred in her first film, "A New Leaf" with Walter Matthau. She wrote and directed "Mikey & Nicky," starring Peter Falk and John Cassavetes. She directed "The Heartbreak Kid" and received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay of "Heaven Can Wait."
More than most working playwrights, May has had success in getting stagings for her one-acts—a form generally thought to be uncommercial by producers. She contributed one-third of the triptych that was Death Defying Acts Off-Broadway in the mid-90s. In 1998, meanwhile, Off-Broadway saw her evening of short works, Power Plays.
Berlin is the deadpan-funny actress daughter of May, who appeared in her mother's Off-Broadway comedy, Adult Entertainment.
Kerwin is the film, TV and stage actor whose credits include the 1988 film "Torch Song Trilogy" and Lincoln Center Theater's The Little Foxes in 1997.
Jere Burns is remembered for TV's "Dear John" and has played a variety of roles on TV and in theatre and film. This marks his Broadway debut.
Smith-Cameron appeared in MTC's Sarah, Sarah (Drama Desk award nomination) and Fuddy Meers (Outer Critics award nomination).
Korbich's Broadway credits include Wicked, Seussical, Carousel (Lincoln Center), Singin' in the Rain and Sweeney Todd (Circle in the Square). Off-Broadway he appeared in Assassins, Godspell, The Gifts of the Magi, Flora The Red Menace, A Little Night Music, Eating Raoul and Takin' a Chance on Love (Obie Award). He was Frank in the national tour of Show Boat.
Jeannie Berlin began her acting career at the age of 14 in the Off-Broadway production of Rumplestiltskin. A few years later, director Arthur Penn cast her in "Alice's Restaurant." She co-starred with Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd in the Neil Simon hit "The Heartbreak Kid," directed by Elaine May, for which Berlin won the New York Film Critics' Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for an Academy Award. The last several years, Berlin has dedicated her time to teaching, writing and directing, including her play The Party, and Funny Wants Out co-written with Laurie Jones. Prior to Adult Entertainment, she appeared Off-Broadway in Power Plays, also written by May.
Tickets range $26-$79 and are available at TeleCharge.com at (212) 239-6200 or at the Biltmore Theatre box office (261 West 47th Street).