The between-season time at Nyack, NY's Helen Hayes Center isn't completely quiet. A couple of theatre-related events -- including a visit by Forbidden Broadway and a chat with Elaine Stritch -- will likely whet playgoers' appetites for the season ahead.
The Hayes' Hudson Summer Series opener, Neil Berg's "Broadway in Concert," ends its scheduled run July 23. Performances began July 20 for this sequel of sorts to Berg's "100 Years of Broadway" concert this past winter. This time, Nathan Lee Graham, Jeri Sager, Rita Harvey, Alex Santoriello, John Patrick Schultz, Danny Zolli and Jekyll and Hyde star Rob Evan will be on hand to sing songs from Les Miz, West Side Story, Chicago, Cabaret and Rodgers & Hammerstein tuners. the All Star Rockland Youth Chorus will provide backup vocals.
Arriving July 29 is comedienne and impressionist Marilyn Michaels, last on Broadway in The Catskills on Broadway. Her Nyack show, "The Great Ladies of Broadway," will feature impersonations of such stars as Ethel Merman and Barbra Streisand.
Another music-theatre must-see comes to the Hayes Aug. 5. Elaine Stritch, star of A Delicate Balance and Show Boat, will be interviewed by Larry Grossman, composer of such shows as A Doll's Life and Grind. Billed as a "Musical Conversation," the evening will likely offer musical moments from such shows as Pal Joey and Company.
Closing the Hudson series will be Forbidden Broadway, an Off Broadway institution that has been mocking Broadway musicals for 17 years. Created by Gerard Alessandrini, the musical spoofing occurs Aug. 10-12. For information on these shows and other Hayes Center events, call (845) 358-6333.
In other Hayes Center news, stage actress Hayes, whose career spanned roughly eight decades, would have been 100 years old this coming October 22. To celebrate her career and spirit, the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center is launching a celebrity-filled gala on that night, with her son, James MacArthur, serving as honorary host.
Already scheduled to pay homage are Loni Ackerman, Barry Bostwick, Ellen Burstyn (Sacrilege), Arlene Dahl, Charles Durning (The Gin Game), Tovah Feldshuh, Julie Harris (The Gin Game), William Hurt (Hurlyburly), Donna Murphy (The King and I), Bernadette Peters (Song and Dance), David Shire, Elaine Stritch (Company) and cast-members of the current Broadway revue, Swing!. Further notables are expected to be announced shortly, and there's even an unconfirmed rumor that the producers are tempted to do the evening in New York City.
Film and audio clips will be shown at the centennial celebration, which will be followed by a champagne and dessert reception. Details are still being worked out for the evening, but the theatre can be reached at (914) 358-6333. Ticket prices are $100 (show only) and $150 (show and reception).
Hayes made her stage debut at age five and starred in such Broadway hits as To The Ladies, Victoria Regina and Mary of Scotland. In 1958 she starred in Eugene O'Neill's A Touch of the Poet at what had been the Fulton Theatre but was newly christened "The Helen Hayes Theatre." That theatre was destroyed in 1982 to make way for the Marriot Marquis Hotel, and a neighboring theatre was re-named the Helen Hayes. The comedy Dirty Blonde now plays at the Broadway Hayes venue.
According to press materials from the Hayes Center, Hayes once said, "I hope some day to have a little theatre in Nyack named after me -- the place where I have been happiest."
-- By David Lefkowitz