The Grave White Way, a new musical in which five former Broadway actors struggle to get into Musical Theatre Heaven, closes after two extensions July 29 at the Hudson Backstage Theatre. The new musical by Joe Patrick Ward (Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies) opened May 11 to strong reviews from Variety, the L.A. Times and the Hollywood Reporter.
Part of the success of the show has been the show's gimmick, which casts a theatre celebrity in a every performance. That actor or actress arrives to beg for the soul of the pathetic thespians' whose bad work may condemn them to Theatre Hell. So far, the celebs have included Tony winner and three time Tony nominee Rene Auberjonois ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," City of Angels), Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Loretta Devine, The Phantom of the Opera's Davis Gaines, Jason Graae, three time Tony nominee Harry Groener (Cats, Crazy For You), Cats' Ken Page, Amy Pietz, Godspell and Pippin composer Stephen Schwartz, Yeardley Smith, Ragtime's Camille Saviola, Kevin Spirtas, Billy Porter, Fosse's Jane Lanier and The Life's Lilias White. Legendary musical theatre performer John Raitt (the original Oklahoma!, Carousel and The Pajama Game) performed the opening night.
The final performance will feature Robert Mandan, best known as Chester Tate on the comic soap opera, "Soap." Other credits include the film version of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "The Matchmaker."
Bat Boy's assistant director Sarah Gurfield directs with musical staging and choreography by Kay Cole (Reprise!'s Sweeney Todd). The company features Craig A. Curtis as Greg, Joshua Finkel (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Les Miserables) as Jacob, Lesli Margherita (Reefer Madness) as Lindsey, Amy Rutberg (The Civil War) as Amanda and Shannon Stoeke as Sheldon.
Tickets are $27.50-$30. The Hudson Backstage Theatre is located at 6537 Santa Monica Boulevard. For reservations, call (310) 289-2999. The Grave White Way is on the web at http://www.gravewhiteway.com. For a schedule of celebrity appearances, visit http://www.gravewhiteway.com/ celebrityschedule.htm. By Christine Ehren