A SMALL CAFE, MAM'SELLE: This fall Grove Press is putting between hard covers some significant chit-chat at Parisian bistros. Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Other Plays--i.e., the quirky works of comedian-turned-playwright Steve Martin--is an engaging read of the opuses that played the Promenade and The Public last season. At the Lapin Agile, Martin imagines a 1904 encounter with Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein--and Elvis; Other Plays includes WASP, The Zig-Zag Woman and Patter for a Floating Lady. . . . Meanwhile, over at Samuel Beckett's favorite haunt in another part of Paris, talks he had there with The New York Times's Beckett-expert-in-residence, Mel Gussow, are finding their way into print for the first time via the just-published Conversations on Beckett. In addition to the rightly celebrated author, Gussow did insightful interviews with Gogo of the first American Waiting for Godot (Bert Lahr), Beckett's favorite actors (Jack MacGowran and Billie Whitelaw) and directors Deborah Warner and Mike Nichols. ROMANCE ON THE HIGH KEYS: Show tunes in a velvet style are a specialty with Eric Comstock, tickling the ivories and dispatching the evergreens nightly (Tuesdays through Thursdays) at Arcimboldo, the elegant David Barrett-designed East Side eatery. . . . Another cabaret performer with a show-tunes bent -- in fact, this year's MAC Award winner for Outstanding Male Vocalist: Tom Andersen -- has a romantic new CD in stores titled "Far Away Places" and featuring "Moonglow," "Let It Be Me" and his signature song (from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella), "Ten Minutes Ago." It's definitely a grand night for singing. . .
TWO BY TWO: Two-character plays are positively voguish Off-Broadway these days. The Roundabout's Laura Pels has Estelle Parsons and Lucie Arnaz as Grace & Glorie, about a 90-year-old Appalachian woman battling cancer and land developers with the help of a career-driven New York sophisticate. Come September, Hal Robinson and Justin Kirk will be dispensing Old, Wicked Songs at the Promenade as a music teacher and his student, a passionless pianist.
-- By Harry Haun