Although Steve Martin's comedy, Picasso At The Lapin Agile, has been staged regionally several times since its Off-Broadway stint in 1996 (such as at Connecticut Repertory in July), the show hasn't had an official national tour -- until now.
Starting Oct. 3, comedian Paul Provenza and actor Mark Nelson will star in the touring production, the former as sullen, fiery Pablo Picasso; the latter as Albert Einstein (the role he played Off-Broadway).
The popular comedy follows the chance meeting of physicist Einstein and artist Picasso in a small French cafe at the turn of the century. Both try to pick up the same pretty girl, and the result is a comical debate between the two men about the nature of true genius.
Nelson recently starred Off-Broadway in Drama Dept.'s As Bees In Honey Drown and will direct the company's June Moon at NJ's McCarter Theatre in September. His Broadway credits include Three Sisters and A Few Good Men. Provenza was featured in the Off-Broadway satire, Only Kidding!, a role he also played in Los Angeles.
Nelson told Playbill On-Line (Aug. 21), "It was just an act of God, getting the role of Einstein. There was a point in previews when I just let go and Albert gently nudged me out of the way. Randall Arney directed and will again on tour. He was supportive and encouraged what I was doing. When I would bend to a more cynical approach, he'd encourage me to drop that and stick to the innocence and the embrace." Continued Nelson, "George Segal is a friend of mine from when we did The Fourth Wall three years ago. I'd just gotten the Einstein role and was in a panic about the responsibility of embodying him. And George said, `all you have to do is get out of the way and let Einstein give the performance. You think he's gonna leave you to do it?'"
Also starring in Picasso: Ted Grantham plays Sagot; Jim Mohr plays Gaston; James Kruk plays a visitor; Michael Oosterman plays Schmendemian; Kimberly King plays Germaine; Ian Barford plays Freddy; Susannah Schulman plays Suzanne.
Randall Arney staged the world premiere, NY and L.A. of Picasso and will return for the tour. Other Broadway credits include The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice and The Song Of Jacob Zulu, both developed in Chicago.
Designing the Picasso tour are Scott Bradley (sets), Patricia Zipprodt (costumes) and Kevin Rigdon (lighting). The tour is produced by Stephen Eich, Joan Stein and Richard Martini.
Since its premiere at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre in October 1994, Picasso has received much critical acclaim. In October 1995, the show opened in New York, where it garnered the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway play. The New York cast then toured to Theatre on the Square in San Francisco, where the sold-out run was extended for several months.
Though Martin has been a comedian/actor/film director for over two decades, Picasso was his first play. Its success spurred him on to write Wasp And Other Magic Plays, which was produced at the Public Theatre Off-Broadway.
Here are the tour dates for Picasso At The Lapin Agile:
Oct. 6: Rich Forum, Stamford, CT
Oct. 13: Miriam, Philadelphia, PA
Oct. 20: Shubert, Boston, MA
Oct. 27: Taft, Cincinatti, OH
Nov. 3: Fisher, Detroit, MI
Nov. 17: Providence PAC, Providence, RI
Dec. 22: Herbst, San Francisco, CA
Jan. 13, 1998: Fisher, Detroit, MI
Jan. 20, 1998: Wilshire, Los Angeles, CA
Feb. 9, 1998: McCallum, Palm Desert, CA
Feb. 16, 1998: Palace, Columbus, OH
Feb. 23, 1998: Parker, Fort Lauderdale, FL
March 16, 1998: Coconut Grove, Miami, FL
March 23, 1998: Royal Poinciana, West Palm Beach, FL
April 6, 1998: National, Washington DC
April 13, 1998: Mechanic, Baltimore, MD
April 20, 1998: Elgin, Toronto, Canada
May 4, 1998: State, Minneapolis, MN
May 11, 1998: Moore, Seattle, WA
May 18, 1998: Lincoln Center, Fort Collins
May 29, 1998: DuPont Theatre, Wilmington, DE