You can't call Karen Morrow "madam" much longer. The Reprise! concert reading of Call Me Madam ends Sept. 24 at University of California Los Angeles' Freud Playhouse. Performances of the revival began Sept. 13 24.
Morrow stepped in to the lead as a replacement for Chita Rivera, who was cast in New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse's production of Anything Goes. A Theatre World and four-time Drama-Logue Award winner, she starred on Broadway in I Had a Ball, A Joyful Noise, I'm Solomon, Music, Music, The Selling of the President, The Grass Harp and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Los Angeles audiences may recognize her from Pasadena Playhouse's Sweet Smart Rogers and Hart or the national tours of The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Harold Prince's Show Boat. Also an Emmy winner, Morrow can be heard on concert stages and recordings, including "An Evening With Jerry Herman."
Playing opposite her will be Hugh Panaro as Cosmo Constantine. Panaro was last seen in Los Angeles as the title character in Martin Guerre. Other credits include both Raoul and the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, Side Show, Show Boat and Les Miserables on Broadway.
Also in the cast are Michael Nouri (Victor/Victoria), Melissa Dye and Loren Freeman.
Call Me Madam, originally an Ethel Merman vehicle, is the story of brash Washington, DC society hostess Sally Adams (Morrow) who is made an ambassador to the tiny country of Lichtenburg. Once there, the Foreign Minister Constantine (Panaro) falls for her and her aide Kenneth falls for the Princess Maria. Complications involving a shady-seeming loan may keep them all apart. Irving Berlin penned the tunes including The Hostess With the Mostes' on the Ball", "It's a Lovely Day Today" and "You're Just in Love." Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse wrote the score. John Bowab directs. He recently directed Rivera in a fund-raising concert of Sweet Charity at New York's Lincoln Center.
The Freud Playhouse is located in UCLA's Macgowan Hall. Call (310) 825-2101 or Ticketmaster Fine Arts Line for information.
-- By Christine Ehren