Just days after agreeing to return to TV's "Seinfeld" for another season this fall, Tony-winner Jason Alexander is starring on stage in a concert performance of Promises, Promises in Los Angeles. It runs through May 18
Promises, Promises is the 1968 Burt Bacharach, Hal David & Neil Simon musical adaptated from Billy Wilder/I.A.L. Diamond's film, The Apartment. Songs include "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" and the title tune. (May 14-18).
Directed by Stuart Ross (creator of Forever Plaid), the cast also features Alan Thicke, Jean Smart (Last Summer At Bluefish Cove), Karen Fineman, Linda Hart, Barney Martin (best known as Jerry's father on TV's "Seinfeld"), Paul Kreppel, Alan Rachins (of "L.A. Law" fame), Charlie Robinson, and Fred Willard (of "Fernwood Tonight" fame).
Taking its cue from New York's highly successful "Encores!" series, which presents classic or neglected Broadway musicals in semi-staged, concert form (and which also reprised Promises this spring with Martin Short), the Los Angeles theatre company, Reprise!, is doing the same in a three-show series that started May 14 with Promises, Promises.
Like its NY counterparts, Reprise! will also build its shows around star performers -- such as Jason Alexander, Joel Grey and Tyne Daly. Each production in the 3-show season will get six performances. Here's the rest of the debut roster:
Finian's Rainbow, Burton Lane & Yip Harburg's musical fable, featuring cabaret artist Andrea Marcovicci and Keith Carradine (Will Rogers Follies).
(Chicago, Cabaret, George M.).
Co-written with Fred Saidy, Rainbow tells of an Irish leprechaun confronting the bigotry of a small town. Songs include "How Are Things In Glocca Morra?," "Look To The Rainbow," and "Old Devil Moon." (Sept. 24-28).
Wonderful Town, the Leonard Bernstein, Fields & Chodorov and Comden & Green musical comedy, starring Tyne Daly (Gypsy).
This 1953 Tony-winning show is based on Ruth McKenney's stories, which served as the basis for the Fields & Chodorov play, My Sister Eileen. (Nov. 19-23).
Supporting roles have yet to be announced for the musicals, which will feature music direction by Peter Matz. Matz, an Emmy-winner for his work on two classic Barbara Streisand TV specials, began his career writing orchestrations, arrangements and dance music for Harold Arlen's House Of Flowers and Jamaica. Other Broadway efforts included arrangements on No Strings and Hallelujah, Baby!. Matz told the Los Angeles Times he plans to use 8 instrumentalists for Promises, Promises, playing "the main parts of the original orchestration, with some electronic augmentation on keyboards." In the fall, he hopes to use 14 or 15 musicians and an all-acoustic sound for Finian's Rainbow, and a 12-piece jazz band for Wonderful Town.
Said producing artistic director Marcia Seligson of "Reprise!: Broadway's Best In Concert," "I have had a passion for Broadway musicals my entire life, but many of the classics I have loved and wanted to experience again have not been revived...because of the huge expense involved. Following the lead of the very successful Encores! Series in New York, we are creating a theatre company in Los Angeles to bring these wonderful shows to life again. In Southern California, there is a vast pool of film and television actors with musical theatre backgrounds who would love to perform in these shows, but their schedules will not permit a long run or tour. Reprise! will fill the need for these performers."
"We are also committed to creating a new, young audience for musicals," Seligson said, "[and] for the future, we also intend to give a voice to new musical theatre writers and composers by showcasing new shows and works in progress."
Productions will be "semi-staged," Seligson told Don Shirley of the L.A. Times, "not a nightclub act or a revue." At least some of the actors will carry scripts, but they'll also move around the stage. They'll wear costumes, but there will be no costume changes. Dance numbers will be choreographed, and there'll be some scenery, but it will be "simple and pared down."
For information on subscriptions ($95-110) and single tickets ($35-$40) to Reprise!, at the UCLA-Freud Playhouse, call (310) 825-2101.
--By David Lefkowitz