Heather MacRae is expected to return to the new musical, Abie's Island Rose, May 16 after missing two Mother's Day performances due to throat trouble, according to a production source.
The two May 14 performances of Jewish Repertory Theatre's world premiere staging in New York City were canceled due to the continuing respiratory illness of star MacRae, who plays the Jewish mama in the musical. MacRae was ill during the preview period as well.
Thinking on their feet, the creative team hoped to salvage the May 14 shows by inserting composer-director Doug Katsaros in the part, not in drag but with script in hand. Actors' Equity nixed the notion, however, citing breach of contract without prior signing as understudy, according to a production source.
Patti Wyss is being rehearsed as an understudy May 16 in case MacRae requires more rest before the run of the show ends May 21. A recuperating MacRae "has every intention of finishing the run," a production source told Playbill On-Line.
Subscribers who were shut out of the canceled shows will be credited for next season or offered seats in the final week of shows. *
MacRae plays Madeline Feinman in the new tuner about a Jewish med student who falls for an Afro-Caribbean island nurse. MacRae is the actress and cabaret star who appeared in Broadway's Falsettos, and whose father was the movie star Gordon MacRae ("Carousel," "Oklahoma!").
Performances of Abie's Island Rose began April 29 at Playhouse 91 in Manhattan, presented by JRT. Official opening was May 7.
Ron Sproat wrote the book, while Evans and Richard Engquist are co-lyricists. The musical's title and premise are inspired by Anne Nichols' hit 1922 comedy, Abie's Irish Rose, about a Jewish boy and an Irish Catholic girl.
Ran Avni is JRT's artistic director. Madeline Gilford is associate producer of Abie's Island Rose.
The cast also includes Steven Rosen, Carla Woods and Keith Lee Grant.
For information, call (212) 831-2000.
-- By Kenneth Jones