Back in October 1997, the New York Post reported that producer David Merrick, 85 years old and in perilous health due to a stroke he suffered in the mid-1980s, was planning to revive his last triumph, 42nd Street on Broadway.
Now (Feb. 25) the Post reports that producer Manny Kladitis has picked up the torch, hoping to put 42nd Street on 42nd Street in the year 2000. Kladitis confirmed the story to Playbill On-Line.
Since Ragtime and The Lion King may still be running in two years, Playbill On-Line asked Kladitis (Feb. 26) what theatre he was targeting on 42nd Street. "We don't know... There are other theatres on the block. And if not, the show may not literally be on 42nd but figuratively. Broadway." Kladitis also said that, at least at this point, the legendary Merrick has no involvement in the production.
Why 42nd Street when the century turns? "It's a proper installation for the turn of the millennium," said Kladitis. "It's a show about what the Street was like when it was really hopping. When it wasn't about drugs and pimps and whores and prostitutes. Which is where it is again. Amazing how things are so cyclical."
As for the nuts and bolts of the revival, Kladitis is personal friends with Mark Bramble who adapted the show's book with Michael Stewart. Bramble, who received a Tony nomination for his book for Barnum, is likely to direct the new version. Kladitis is hoping to get costumer Theoni Aldredge and set designer Robin Wagner to recreate their work on the 1980 smash. Randy Skinner, who worked as a Dance Assistant (with Karin Baker) on the original, is being tapped to choreograph.
In related news, Kladitis and Bramble are also developing Golddiggers, which was to have been a Merrick project years ago. No specifics are yet available on that show's plans.
-- By David Lefkowitz