Though the Off-Broadway show Boychik changed its date for beginning previews four times, the official opening date remains Feb. 6 at Theatre Four on West 55th St. The one-man solo stars Richard Kline, best known as the smarmy neighbor, Larry, on TV's "Three's Company."
As the producers, Michael Mann and Barrie & Lynn Wexler, solidified plans for the show, the initial preview date changed from Jan. 14 to Jan. 21 and then Jan. 22. Then, suddenly, director Max Mayer's father died, delaying the first preview date to Jan. 28.
Production spokesperson Kate Cambridge told Playbill On-Line the shortened preview period shouldn't make that much difference since Boychik is a one-man show, and Kline has been honing Richard Krevolin's play in readings and staged readings, the first of which took place Sept. 18, 1995 at a synagogue in Los Angeles. "I think the piece has gotten even better," Kline told Playbill On-Line. "It's more of a play now, rather than a series of reminiscences."
Boychik tells of a middle-aged, American Jew dealing with his emotions after the death of his scholarly father. Though Larry refuses to follow the Jewish traditions of saying Kaddish and lighting the Yahrtzeit candle, he's prodded into a new understanding of his dad by sorting through his father's personal effects.
Even though he's not the author of Boychik, Kline finds parallels in the work to his own life: "My own experiences with Judaism were kind of similar...the idea of growing up and going away to college. My parents were Reformed, so I basically had the choice of Hebrew school or Little League (classes were on the same days). I figured I had a better chance of playing shortstop for the Yankees than becoming a Rabbi, so..." Not surprisingly, Kline's favorite moment in the play has to do with Little League: "I get to play a gruff, foul-mouthed coach and three other characters." Kline found himself moving back into Judaism 12 years ago when it was time to put his daughter into a local private day-school. "Now we see her sing every Friday night at temple."
Kline, who recently played the title character in Goodspeed Opera House's mounting of Andrew Lloyd Webber's By Jeeves, has worked at Lincoln Center, the NY Shakespeare Festival and DC's Kennedy Center. He appeared as Buddy on Broadway in City Of Angels and in the Canadian national tour of Neil Simon's Jake's Women. In 1996 Kline won the Los Angeles Drama Critic's Circle Award for directing Noel Coward's Present Laughter at the Melrose Theatre.
Playwright Krevolin's The Law Of Return was performed by Shelly Berman at the Streisand Festival, and his 1992 comedy, Love Is Like Velcro won the USC One-Act Play Festival.
Max Mayer has staged plays at the Atlantic and WPA Theatres and is the artistic director of the Double Image Company. He has twice won the Helen Hayes Award as best director (1989's The Fairy Garden, 1991's My Children, My Africa).
Sets are by Thomas Lynch (Having Our Say, The Heidi Chronicles), lighting by Jeff Croiter, sound by Guy Sherman of Aural Fixation, costumes by Tommy Hilfiger, and -- yes, we've been specially asked to mention this -- hair color by Clairol.
For tickets ($35-$42.50) and information on Boychik, call (212) 239-6200.
--By David Lefkowitz