The Variety Arts Theatre will be home to Adult Entertainment, but don't call the mayor's office just yet: The title promises porn, but the work is by respected satirist Elaine May.
Playbill On-Line previously reported Danny Aiello and Jeannie Berlin as stars of the new play by May (known for her sketch comedy and screenplays to "The Birdcage" and "Heaven Can Wait"). Film legend Stanley Donen ("Singin' in the Rain") will direct Adult Entertainment, set for a Nov. 16 first preview and an opening of Dec. 2. A tryout in Stamford, CT, at the Stamford Center for the Arts, runs Nov. 1-10.
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 the official announcement Sept. 26, "Adult Entertainment is about six members of the porn industry who, tired of working for others, decide to make their own film."
The play is presented by Julian Schlossberg, Roy Furman and Ben Sprecher, who 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." The cast also includes Mary Birdsong (a regular on "The Daily Show"), Brandon Demery, Eric Elice and Linda Halaska.
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.
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.
Among Donen's film credits are "Bedazzled," "Two for the Road," "Charade," "Damn Yankees," "The Pajama Game," "Royal Wedding" and "Funny Face."
Variety Arts Theatre, currently home to Endpapers, is at 110 Third Avenue, just below 14th Street. Its run at the Variety Arts is expected to end Oct. 27.
Performances will play 8 PM Tuesday-Saturday, 2 PM Wednesdays and Saturdays, 3 PM Sundays. Tickets are $25-$65 and go on sale by phone Oct. 14. For information, call (212) 239-6200. The Variety Arts Theatre box office will open Oct. 20.
— By Kenneth Jones