LETTING GEORGE (AND IRA) DO IT: It being Ira's centennial, expect a little something by the Gershwin brothers to surface in the City Center's next season of Encores! Rumor is that the other two slots will be filled with Johnny Mercer lyrics one to the melodies of Harold Arlen (their rarely done St. Louis Woman) and the other to the tunes of his Seven Brides for Seven Brothers collaborator, Gene de Paul (Li'l Abner). Back when Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner were wedded, MGM promised them in the film version of St. Louis Woman, but their marriage went under first. . . . Musicals in Mufti, the York Theatre Company's underfunded facsimile of the Encores! series, just finished its fourth season of staged readings of old shows in search of new looks. This year's trio: Comden & Green and Jule Styne's musical about Hollywood of the thirties, Fade Out Fade In; Evin Drake's musicalization of Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra titled (wickedly) Her First Roman; and Galt MacDermot and William Dumaresq's musicalization of William Saroyan's The Human Comedy. . . . Kyra Sedgwick jetted back from Europe just in time to catch her brother, Rob Sedgwick, open in an applauded new piece by Ben Bettenbender from the Directors Company at Theatre 3, Those Left Behind. . . . Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, "The Odd Couple" of TV, are headed for the Coconut Grove Playhouse to turn into The Sunshine Boys (also by Neil Simon). The results they'll install at the Lyceum this December, under John Tillinger's direction. . . . James Naughton, who took a break from his Tony-winning performance in Chicago to do a little directing in Williamstown, will helm the season curtain-raiser for son Greg's Blue Light Theatre Company: Eduardo Da Filippo's Filumena: A Marriage Italian Style, adapted by (and starring) Maria Tucci.
DUTCH TREAT: New York Theatre Workshop, from which came Rent, is lifting off its new season with More Stately Mansions, and artistic director James C. Nicola has left the directing to Ivo van Hove, one of the shining theatrical lights of The Netherlands. It marks his U.S. directorial debut and the first and only time this Eugene O'Neill opus has been seen since its original Broadway presentation 30 years ago with Ingrid Bergman and Colleen Dewhurst. . . . Mojo, Jez Butterworth's inspection of the seedy side of early rock-n-roll (circa 1958) in London's Soho, will get The Atlantic Theater Company in gear with a production helmed by artistic director Neil Pepe. When premiered at London's Royal Court Theatre, the play captured the Olivier Award for Best Comedy. . . . Playwright's Preview Productions, which launched Minor Demons and Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown, now operates under the name of Urban Stages, and its 1997-98 season is entitled "Asian Women Speak." Two cases-in-point will be presented: I See My Bones, a romance by Kitty Chen, and Details/ Cannot/ Body/ Wants, a performance piece written and presented by Chin Woon Ping.. . . The Fantasticks creative duo Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt are opening the York Theatre Company's 29th season in December by premiering (and personally presenting) a portfolio of their theatre songs called The Show Goes On. -- By Harry Haun