Back in March 1998, producer David Brown was hoping to bring "A Bea Arthur Evening" to Broadway that season. That show never materialized, but now Arthur fans and wannaBeas can take heart: the "Maude" and "Golden Girls" star is, indeed, touring a one-woman show to 26 cities, followed by a planned New York opening in Spring 2002.
Daryl Roth is producing ...And Then There's Bea, With Her Friend Billy Goldenberg at the Piano, which opened at Minneapolis, MN's Guthrie Theatre April 24-29. The show charts Arthur's theatre and TV career through songs and anecdotes, with Richard Maltby, Jr. serving as production consultant.
"It's reminiscences, storytelling, her career," Roth told PBOL April 23, "with songs that are meaningful to her."
Tour dates have now been finalized for the rest of this year, with Bea buzzing next to Melbourne, FL's King Center, May 8-13. After that, the dates/venues include:
May 20: Fort Myers, FL: Barbara Mann Theatre
May 22-31: Chicago, IL: Park West Theatre
June 2-3: Savannah, GA: Lucas Theatre
June 12-17: Louisville, KY: Brown Theatre
June 19-24: Austin, TX: Paramount Theatre
July 3-8: Columbus, OH: Capitol Theatre
July 10-15: Cincinnati, OH: Kaplan Theatre
July 24-29: Nyack, NY: Helen Hayes Theatre
July 31-Aug. 5: Raleigh, NC: Fletcher Opera House
Aug. 7-19: Fort Lauderdale, FL: Amaturo Theatre
Sept. 4-8: Indianapolis, IN: Egyptian Ballroom
Sept. 18-22: St. Louis, MO: Pageant Theatre
Oct. 23-28: Tampa, FL: Playhouse
Nov. 8: Lakeland, FL: Polk Theatre
Nov. 10: Galveston, TX: Grand Opera House
Dec. 11-23: West Palm, FL: Royal Poinciana
Dec. 26-30: Thousand Oaks, CA: Civic Arts Plaza
Jan. 2-6, 2002: Phoenix, AZ: Orpheum Theatre Producer Daryl Roth has yet to decide what size Manhattan venue might be appropriate for the show's planned New York sojourn.
Actress Arthur got her start in the original production of The Threepenny Opera in 1954 and was the original Yente the Matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof. Her work as Vera Charles in Mame led to a Tony Award, while her work in "Maude" led to a 1977 Emmy. Arthur's last Broadway show was Woody Allen's The Floating Lightbulb.
Composer Goldenberg is best known for his film work ("The Last of Sheila," "Play It Again, Sam") but he also wrote the music for The Queen of the Stardust Ballroom and An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, before serving as dance music arranger for such musicals as Greenwillow and High Spirits. He's currently working with The Fantasticks' Tom Jones on a musical adaptation of "Harold and Maude."