Future attractions in the Drama Dept.'s new cabaret series include such seasoned performers as Judy Kuhn, Howard McGillin and Mary Beth Piel. But for the company's first offering, by a theatrical novice, is doing just fine. One-time fashion king Isaac Mizrahi’s solo show, Les MIZrahi, has been virtually sold out for weeks, so the show will extend past its initial Nov. 25 closing date to Dec. 16. Performances began at the Greenwich House Theatre in Greenwich Village Oct. 5 for an opening Oct. 19.
Mizrahi, 38, was a reigning fashion designer throughout the '90s, prominent enough to become the subject of the successful 1995 documentary film, "Unzipped." In 1998, however, he closed his business.
Mizrahi not only sings and dances in the show but design the sets and costumes (something he has done before for the likes of Twyla Tharp and Mark Morris). He’s accompanied by the Ben Waltzer Trio, made up of Waltzer on piano, Nicolas Thys on bass and Joe Strasser on drums.
The design team includes Kirk Bookman (lights), Wendall K. Harrington (projections), Laura Brace Brown (sound) and Charles Atlas (video montage).
Mizrahi told Newsday (Oct. 19) he developed the show out of journals he'd been keeping since 1996. "I would write about specific topics and these became monologues," he said. "There were conversations within each topic... I put them in a satisfying order dramaturgically and put them together. To me, it was thrilling." He then sent a video demo of the show — to his mom. "`It's great,'" she apparently told him. "`You're an idiot if you don't do it.'" Other cabaret acts to come will feature Kevin Chamberlin and Amy Hohn.
Two plays by Beane, who is the troupe's artistic director, have been Drama Dept. productions: As Bees in Honey Drown and The Country Club. His new work is a musical, The Big Time, written with Douglas Cohen, author of No Way to Treat a Lady. The tuner, about the relationship between show business and terrorism, will debut in spring of 2001.
Amy Sedaris recently appeared in the troupe's production of Beane's The Country Club. Brother David, meanwhile, is the comic author of such volumes as "Barrel Fever" and "Naked." Together, they operate as The Talent Family and have presented a series of satirical, sketch-like comedies such as One Woman Shoe and The Little Frieda Mysteries. Most of these shows were seen at La MaMa, but the Sedaris siblings appear to have found a new home at the Drama Dept. No title has been attached to their upcoming endeavor, which is set for early 2001.
Greenberg's new work, The Dazzle, directed by David Warren, is also expected to make the Dept. schedule. The play, about two brothers and a mysterious society woman, is currently being staged by New York Stage and Film at Vassar College, with a cast including Peter Frechette and Reg Rogers. Greenberg, an original member of the Dept., has yet to provide the company with a new play, although his one-act, The Author's Voice, was revived last season as part of a double bill.
-- By Robert Simonson