Adult Entertainment, the new Elaine May comedy about porn movie actors who decide to make their own picture, begins previews with the evening performance Nov. 16 at Off-Broadway's Variety Arts Theatre.
The opening of the Stanley Donen-directed play, starring Danny Aiello and Jeannie Berlin, is Dec. 11. Adult Entertainment completed a tryout in Stamford, CT, Nov. 10. Julian Schlossberg, Roy Furman, Ben Sprecher, Jim Fantaci, William D. Rollnick, Nancy Ellison, Ted Lachowicz and Aaron Levy produce. The cast also includes Mary Birdsong ("The Daily Show"), Brandon Demery, Eric Elice and Linda Halaska.
The title is provocative, but don't call the mayor's office just yet: Although the work sounds like it promises pure porn (and the eye-catching print ads show a woman's backside, with tragedy and comedy masks tattooed on her cheeks), the new comedy is by respected satirist Elaine May, famous for her sketch comedy and screenplays to "The Birdcage" and "Heaven Can Wait." Donen is the film legend who directed "Singin' in the Rain."
May's comedy, which insiders call a satire with heart, is billed as being about "the good men and women of the porn industry." According to production notes, "Adult Entertainment is about six members of the porn industry who, tired of working for others, decide to make their own film."
Producers Julian Schlossberg, Roy Furman and Ben Sprecher teamed on last season's Fortune's Fool on Broadway. Jeannie Berlin, a respected actress and director, is May's daughter and appeared in "The Heartbreak Kid" and Off Broadway's Power Plays. Aiello has distinguished himself in such films as "Do the Right Thing," Moonstruck" and "Radio Days."
Designers are Neil Patel (set), Suzy Benzinger (costumes), Phil Monat (lighting) and T. Richard Fitzgerald (sound).
Donen is renowned for the pictures he co-directed for M-G-M, including "On the Town" and "Singin' in the Rain," in the golden days of the 1950s color movie-musical. He directed the Broadway musical, The Red Shoes, in 1993. Among Donen's film credits are "Bedazzled," "Two for the Road," "Charade," "Damn Yankees," "The Pajama Game," "Royal Wedding" and "Funny Face."
Elaine May's last New York play was the short-lived Taller Than a Dwarf, starring Matthew Broderick in 2001 (Schlossberg produced). Her career began as an actress in The Second City, where she formed a partnership with Mike Nichols. The pair appeared in clubs, on TV and on Broadway. She would later become a screenwriter and film director, and continue acting. Her screenplays include "A New Leaf" (also direction and acting), "Mikey & Nicky" (also direction), "Heaven Can Wait" (written with Warren Beatty), "The Birdcage" (directed by Mike Nichols) and "Primary Colors" (directed by Nichols). She also contributed to Power Plays and Death Defying Acts for the stage.
Performances will play 8 PM Tuesdays-Saturdays, 2 PM Wednesdays and Saturdays, 3 PM Sundays. Tickets are $25-$65. Variety Arts Theatre is at 110 Third Avenue, below 14th Street. For information, call (212) 239 6200.