Pete 'n' Keely, the Off-Broadway musical comedy hailed as the funniest showbiz spoof this side of a Carol Burnett sketch, closes March 11, after three months of shows.
James Hindman's sharply-sung concept revue starring George Dvorsky and Sally Mayes, at the John Houseman Theatre, tried to combat winter business doldrums by adding guest stars such as Jo Anne Worley, the DJ Cousin Brucie, Phyllis Diller and Charo in recent weeks.
In the show, a divorced Steve-and-Eydie-like singing couple are reunited for a "live" 1968 TV special. The added celebs, billed as "special guests," performed the sort of material they were associated with in 1968, in both acts. Mayes and Dvorsky flew solo for their final week of performances, minus any guests. Despite the smooth singing and slick, hip arrangements, no cast album is planned, a spokesman said.
George Dvorsky plays Pete Bartel and Sally Mayes is Keely Stevens, onetime marrieds who spar and sing on a live TV special that recounts their romance and musical careers. In the conceit, the singers have not spoken since their breakup at Caesars Palace five years earlier. Mark Waldrop directs and penned lyrics for new songs, which are mixed in with period classics. The show is billed as "a sparkling musical cocktail...on the rocks." Pete 'n' Keely, produced by Steve Asher, David Unger and Avalon Entertainment, began previews Dec. 2, 2000, and opened Dec. 14. Conceived by Hindman, Waldrop and musical director Patrick Brady, and written by Hindman, the musical comedy puts cabaret star and Tony Award-nominated actress Mayes (Closer Than Ever, She Loves Me) in a fake "live TV" event where she sings and sneers at Dvorsky (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Paper Mill Playhouse's Anything Goes). Director Waldrop helmed When Pigs Fly and Bette Midler's recent concert tour. Keith Cromwell choreographs.
Among the musical numbers in the show are "Besame Mucho," Burke and Van Heusen's "But Beautiful," "Fever," Rodgers and Hart's "Lover," Steve Allen's "This Could Be the Start of Something Big," and new tunes by Brady and Waldrop, including "Kid Stuff," "Tony & Cleo" (a trimmed version of a fake Broadway musical Pete and Keely starred in, based on Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra), "Too Fat to Fit," "Wasn't It Fine," "Have You Got a Lot to Learn," "Hello, Egypt!," and more.
Bob Mackie, known for his outrageous work on "The Carol Burnett Show," is costume designer. Ray Klausen (Waiting in the Wings) is scenic designer. Lighting design is by F. Mitchell Dana. Brady is Mayes' longtime cabaret collaborator, and contributes original music and serves as arranger and musical director. He recently served as musical director and conductor for Fosse.
To view Playbill On-Line's Brief Encounter Q&A with Sally Mayes, click here.
Pete 'n' Keely tickets are $55. The John Houseman Theatre is at 450 W. 42nd Street (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues). For tickets, call (212) 239-6200. Visit the Pete 'n' Keely website at www.petenkeely.com.
— By Kenneth Jones