Goulet Warming Up La Mancha for the Road

Goulet Warming Up La Mancha for the Road NEWS FROM THE ROAD

NEWS FROM THE ROAD

While it may be hard for audiences to believe that matinee idol Robert Goulet is old enough to assay the role of Miguel D. Cervantes's mad dreamer, Don Quixote, the actor himself feels that the time is absolutely right to mount Rocinante and tilt toward the windmills.

Goulet, who rose to stardom as the original Lancelot in Camelot, sings of ideals in a different key this summer when he hits the road in a new production of the beloved classic, Man of La Mancha, directed by Albert Marre and written by Dale Wasserman with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion.

Opening this month at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA; the show then plays Columbus, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; New Haven, Connecticut; and Chicago, Illinois; just the first stops of what will be a year-long tour, which will end with a limited N.Y. engagement.

"I can't wait," said Goulet at the time he was in New York last spring to play opposite Lynn Redgrave in Ken Ludwig's Moon Over Buffalo. "Who wouldn't want to interpret songs like 'The Impossible Dream'?" The 63-year-old Goulet is no stranger to hotels and room service and the rigors of the road. "I've spent most of my life in them," he says, detailing an exhausting schedule that would crush a man half his age. "You go to a city for a week, you do five shows on the weekend and you're damn exhausted. Maybe you take your wife to dinner on Monday--it's your only night off--there's the opening night party, interviews for the Sunday supplements, a chance for a quick game of golf. On Friday I do nothing to save my energy for the five shows."

Since 1986, Goulet has proven to be a huge draw on the road, having made quite a bundle for producers and himself in touring versions of South Pacific and then Camelot. Although he got clobbered by the New York critics when the latter production (in which he played King Arthur) came to Broadway, he took it in philosophical stride. "Heck, it's all part of the business," he says.

Goulet says that after he's through tilting at windmills, he plans to begin work on Henry's Wives, a musical written for him by Leslie Bricusse based on the life of the much-married Henry VIII. It should bow on Broadway in late 1997. Asked how many wives he's had, Goulet chirps, "Seventeen, at last count." For the record, he's had three, including a stormy marriage to Carol Lawrence and his present one to Vera Novak, his business manager.

Jekyll & Hyde Gets a New Director The new Frank Wildhorn-Leslie Bricusse musical, Jekyll & Hyde, which recently completed a very successful 34-city tour starring Linda Eder and Robert Cuccioli, has a new director. Robin Phillips, who once served as the artistic director of Canada's prestigious Stratford Festival, takes over the reins from Gregory Boyd who resigned to devote himself full time to his duties as artistic director of Houston's Alley Theatre where the musical was initially developed. After playing more tryout dates, the show should bow on Broadway in the spring of 1997.

Meanwhile, another musical, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde bows on the theatrical circuit on August 4 at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Massachusetts. Starring Michael Martin (Bed and Sofa) and Kim Lindsay (Show Boat), the show is described as "a small chamber piece" and features direction by Philip William McKinley, music by Phil Hall and book and lyrics by David Levy and Leslie Eberrard. Following its North Shore engagement, the show will tour other regional venues.

-- By Patrick Pacheco