It was unusual when composer/lyricist William Finn combined March Of The Falsettos, In Trousers and Falsettoland into one "new" work called Falsettos. An even rarer combo occured April 6 when The Last Sweet Days opened at Off-Broadway's York Theatre Company. Days comprised sections of two separate musicals by the team of librettist/lyricist Gretchen Cryer and composer Nancy Ford (of I'm Getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road renown). The first act came from their 1970 Off-Broadway hit of two one acts, The Last Sweet Days Of Isaac; act two of Days came from their Broadway musical, Shelter.
The new, full-length musical, intended to run through May 4, closed April 20 after 13 previews and 15 performances. Production spokesperson Kevin Rehac said the reason for the early closure was that, "With all the Broadway shows opening, this is a very difficult time of year for Off Broadway shows to eke out attention." The good news is that a cast recording of the show is in the works, with more details to follow.
The Last Sweet Days Of Isaac concerns a poet and secretary stranded in an elevator. Together they search for the meaning of life -- and a little romance as well.
Cryer told Playbill On-Line, "The whole purpose [of the production] is to rework and connect these pieces that were two separate shows but were thematically connected. We discovered that the characters in Isaac and Shelter were the same two characters a few years apart. With Isaac, we felt the second act of the show was not quite as developed as the first. On the other hand, Shelter was never fully realized. It was a chamber musical we inflated to a Broadway production, and I didn't get it focused properly. So we've cut it and condensed it by eliminating one character."
But why 27 years later? "The show is even more relevant now," says Cryer. "It examines two people's lives in this world of technology. These days, people have whole relationships on the internet. There's getting to be a huge confusion between the thing itself and the image of the thing itself. I wanted to show how this really affects people's lives and how they relate to each other. It's about a guy who decides to create his own reality and live in it -- much in the way people are doing now with computer relationships and virtual reality. Oh, and it's really a very funny comedy." Songs in the show include "Love You Came To Me," "A Transparent Crystal Moment" and two new songs in the second half: "Like A River" and "Goodbye Plastic Flowers." The original Last Sweet Days Of Isaac opened at the East Side Playhouse Jan. 26, 1970 and starred Austin Pendleton, Fredericka Weber and John Long.
The cast of Last Sweet Days at the York consisted of Tony nominee (Miss Saigon) Willy Falk, Ellen Foley (of Meatloaf and Me And My Girl fame), Ellen Sowney and Romain Fruge. Designing the show are James Morgan (set), Jonathan Bixby (costumes), Kirk Bookman (lighting), and David Gotwald (sound). Worth Gardner directs.
Recent York Theatre revivals and revisals have included Merrily We Roll Along, Carnival and No Way To Treat A Lady.
For information on The Last Sweet Days Of Isaac, which began previews March 26 and ran to April 20, and the York Theatre Company, call (212) 935-5820.
--By David Lefkowitz