For Pete's Sake: Comic Tuner w/ Mayes Still on the OB Runway

News   For Pete's Sake: Comic Tuner w/ Mayes Still on the OB Runway Pete 'n' Keely, the comic musical about a divorced "singing sweethearts" couple reuniting for a TV special, is still in a "holding pattern" for the fall-winter season, according to librettist James Hindman. The creators are still waiting for an Off-Broadway theatre to open up. In late August, December was announced as the target date for opening at an OB house

Pete 'n' Keely, the comic musical about a divorced "singing sweethearts" couple reuniting for a TV special, is still in a "holding pattern" for the fall-winter season, according to librettist James Hindman. The creators are still waiting for an Off-Broadway theatre to open up. In late August, December was announced as the target date for opening at an OB house

Conceived by Hindman, Mark Waldrop and Patrick Brady, and written by Hindman, the musical comedy will feature cabaret star and actress Sally Mayes (Closer Than Ever, She Loves Me), who appeared in Pete 'n' Keely when it played its first full staging (after workshop readings) in Springfield, MA, in May. Bob Mackie ("The Carol Burnett Show, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public) designed the costumes. Ray Klausen (Waiting in the Wings has been tapped to do the sets.

The show takes place in 1968, five years after the acrimonious divorce of a Steve-and-Eydie-Gorme-like singing couple, Pete and Keely. Song hits from the 1950s and 1960s punctuate the production, to be directed by Waldrop (When Pigs Fly, Bette Midler's recent concerts).

Arrangements and musical direction are by Brady. Avalon Entertainment is expected to present the staging, at a theatre to be announced. A co-star has not been announced.

* Waldrop previously directed a workshop of the show at CAP 21 in New York City in February 2000 and helmed the debut full staging April 25-May 14 at Springfield, MA's City Stage, with Mayes and George Dvorsky in the title roles.

Previously, Pete 'n' Keely used hit songs of the 1950s and 60s to tell the stories of the protagonists' careers and relationship. "The songs are mostly old standards," author Hindman told Playbill On-Line in February. "Sort of like Forever Plaid. This couple are like Steve and Eydie, and they sing all these old swing tunes. But their emotions start bubbling up through the songs; a lot of things that were never said start coming to the surface in a comic way."

Swing-era tunes previously used include "Fever," "But Beautiful," "Young at Heart," "Besame Mucho," "What Now My Love," Steve Allen's "This Could Be The Start of Something Big," "Black Coffee" and "Lover." There was also a "Cross-Country Medley" at the end of the first act, wherein Pete and Keely sing a song named for nearly every state in the union. Original songs, by Waldrop and Patrick Brady, include "Wasn't It Fine" and "Tony 'n' Cleo" (an intentionally terrible, musical update of Antony and Cleopatra).

Owing to the Off-Broadway plan, the show will not play a previously announced engagement at Queens Theatre in the Park in December.

Fans of actress Mayes can catch her latest cabaret act, "Decade," at the Firebird Cafe, Oct. 4-21. Meanwhile, author Hindman is at work on another project, A Christmas Survival Guide, getting its debut at City Stage in Springfield, MA come holiday time. Ray Roderick, associate director of The Music Man, will stage the piece, which he penned with Hindman and John Glaudini.

Hindman told Playbill On-Line (Sept. 21) the show, which looks at the holiday season "in that 'Seinfeld' way," would get two excerpt readings Sept. 25-25, with performers Karyn Quackenbush, Brian Sutherland (1776) and Kerry O'Malley (Promises, Promises) taking part.

-- By Kenneth Jones
and David Lefkowitz