Back in March 1998, producer David Brown was hoping to bring "A Bea Arthur Evening" to Broadway that season. That show never materialized, but now Arthur fans and wannaBeas can take heart: the "Maude" and "Golden Girls" star will, indeed, tour a one-woman show to 26 cities, followed by a planned New York opening in Spring 2002.
Daryl Roth is producing ...And Then There's Bea, With Her Friend Billy Goldenberg at the Piano, opening at Minneapolis, MN's Guthrie Theatre April 24-29. The show charts Arthur's theatre and TV career through songs and anecdotes, with Richard Maltby, Jr. serving as production consultant.
"It's reminiscences, storytelling, her career," Roth told PBOL (April 23), "with songs that are meaningful to her."
After Minneapolis, Bea buzzes to Melbourne, FL's King Center, May 8-13, followed by Chicago's Park West. Roth told Playbill On-Line (March 23) that the show would also travel to (among others) Montreal, Kansas City, Louisville, Austin, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Columbus, Fort Lauderdale, Westhampton (in August), Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Dallas, Cleveland, Toronto, West Palm Beach before reaching NYC. The producer hasn't yet decided what size Manhattan venue would be appropriate for the show.
The actress got her start in the original production of The Threepenny Opera in 1954 and was the original Yente the Matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof. Her work as Vera Charles in Mame led to a Tony Award, while her work in "Maude" led to a 1977 Emmy. Arthur's last Broadway show was Woody Allen's The Floating Lightbulb. Composer Goldenberg is best known for his film work ("The Last of Sheila," "Play It Again, Sam") but he also wrote the music for The Queen of the Stardust Ballroom and An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, before serving as dance music arranger for such musicals as Greenwillow and High Spirits. He's currently working with The Fantasticks' Tom Jones on a musical adaptation of "Harold and Maude."
— By David Lefkowitz