ON THE AISLE -- September 1996
MUSICALS PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE: The King and I appears to be "Getting To Know You" all over again, via 1996's Tony-winning Best Revival of 1951's Tony-winning Best Musical.
What a difference 45 years can make in one of Rodgers and Hammerstein's more indestructible entertainments is, visually, quite apparent in the "re-thought" production that director Christopher Renshaw has placed on the Neil Simon stage. Now, Varese Sarabande Records seconds this motion with a cast album that makes all those towering old evergreens shimmer and shine like new. Indeed, "Hello, Young Lovers," "Whistle a Happy Tune," "Something Wonderful," "We Kiss in the Shadows," "Shall We Dance?" et al even sound different, if you can imagine. Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy, happily uninhibited by the legendary ghosts who first inhabited those title roles, give the whole score a fresh and affecting spin.
CATS CATS CLIMB THE WALLS: Jacob Brent, Jon Paul Christensen and Jonathan Taylor--three cats from Cats, another Tony-winning Best Musical--recently demonstrated in full, furry costume the clinging power of their Now and Forever Musical (still firmly entrenched at the Winter Garden after, lo, these many years): Specifically, they strapped themselves into climbing harnesses and took on Manhattan Plaza Health Club's 200 square foot indoor Climbing Wall. Such theatrical gestures are not unknown at this club, which has accumulated a large membership of Broadway professionals and performers by offering special rates for members of theatrical unions.
DANCING DAVID: The next king on the Broadway-musical horizon is King David, the Old Testament psalm-singer which will be getting a Disney-sized tune-up in the spring from Alan Menken and Tim Rice, the Oscar-winning composer and lyricist of Disney's Aladdin. They've created a two-and-a-half hour oratorio about the Biblical ruler, and it's to be presented in five performances (May 20-24, 1997) that will open the newly renovated, 93-year-old New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd St. Disney brought out its top two Mikes to make the announcement--Eisner and Ovitz--plus Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuilliani. "Being a New York boy," said Menken, "using King David for the revitalization of 42nd Street is a dream come true."
-- By Harry Haun