Succumbing to a fiercely competitive fall/winter season, Off-Broadway's The Last Session will end its run at the 47th Street Theatre, March 1. The show, which transferred from the Currican Oct. 17, released its original cast recording Dec. 12.
According to spokesperson Kevin Rehac, The Last Session must be out of the space by March 1 because the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre resident company needs it back. The show has been advertising "Final Weeks" for some time now.
The Last Session is a musical about a young musician with AIDS. Songs include "Somebody's Friend," "Connected,""Going It Alone," "At Least I Know What's Killing Me" and "Friendly Fire." Not only does the album feature the above tunes, but there's a bonus track of the cast singing the show's "When You Care," backed by the L.A.-based Friendship Choir.
You can listen to 30-second clips from the cast CD by downloading them, free, from Playbill On-Line's audio clips archive.
As a special send-off for the show, composer/lyricist Steve Schalchlin is flying in from his California home to do a midnight concert, Feb. 28, with the cast at the Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave. at 15th St. Ruth Warrick, who appears on TV's "All My Children," will also appear. *
The Last Session was first performed last May at NY's Currican Theatre and then transferred to the 47th Street theatre in October for a commercial run. The show's producers are Carl D. White & Jamie Cesa with Michael Alden & Jay Cardwell, and Kim & Ronda Espy/Bob-A-Lew Music.
The musical, with music by Steve Schalchlin and a book by Jim Brochu, is based on Schalchlin's real-life battle with AIDS -- one that he seems to be winning. In the play, the character Gideon, a songwriter with AIDS, puts together the "perfect" recording session with old friends before declining health makes it impossible for him to work. When Buddy, a fundamentalist Christian, enters the session, the two worlds collide.
Not only is Schalchin's health progress something of a miraculous success story, he's become somewhat famous for tracking his daily progress in an online diary at his website, http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/1173. Called "The Steve Schalchlin Survival Site," the website charts not only his medical progress and setbacks, but his musical career and news on The Last Session (to which discount tickets are also offered at the site).
Originally intended as a way to keep his family in Texas aware of his condition, Schalchlin's website got national attention when its owner began taking protease inhibitors that changed not only his lifespan, but the quality of his life. Here's a sample entry from July 24:
"I've made reference here to my "Crix Belly." It's a condition some people on Crixivan are experiencing. My belly is slightly enlarged, but it's solid. In fact, you can see the muscle lines across my stomach (if I stand in a really good light), so it doesn't feel like fat. It's hard. The other strange thing - and I think I mentioned it here before, is that my belly button went from an 'inny' to an 'outy.' We have been becoming a hernia.
"Well, yesterday someone in my online Crix group said something about their belly button doing the exact same thing. Could be a coincidence, but if anyone reading this has had a similar reaction, I'd like to hear about it. The other side effect I'm having is sore muscles, leg cramps, etc. that happen constantly.
"Anyway, as someone said, taking these drugs is like driving full speed down a highway at night with the lights off. I'm grateful that my life has been extended, but these are very powerful drugs and we don't know what they do to the "rest" of your body while they are fighting HIV."
Starring in the show (as they did at the Currican) are Dean Bradshaw (Hunting Humans), Amy Coleman, Grace Garland and Bob Stillman as Gideon. Will Gartshore recently joined the cast as Buddy. Brochu has directed the 47th Street staging, taking over for Mike Wills, who directed Session at the Currican. Additional lyrics for the show are by John Bettis, Marie Cain and Brochu, who is a theatre critic for the Glendale New Press and other local newspapers.
Designing Session are Eric Lowell Renschler (set), Markas Henry (costumes), Mike Nolan (sound), and Michael Gottlieb (lighting). The show features arrangements by Michael Gaylord.
For tickets to The Last Session at the 47th Street Theatre (8th Ave.), call (212) 239-6200.
-- By David Lefkowitz