Due to mixed reviews and a busily competitive Off-Broadway season, Charles Busch and Rusty Magee's musical comedy, The Green Heart, will succumb May 4, just over a month after its April 1 opening. The show is unusual for Manhattan Theatre Club for two reasons: it's a musical, and it's playing at the Variety Arts Theatre on 13th St., rather than at MTC's headquarter's in midtown.
After Heart stops pumping, June will see the opening of Always...Patsy Cline. A different production of the show is currently running at Chicago's Apollo Theatre through May 11, starring Hollis Resnick and Sarah Underwood. Although several sources confirmed the Off-Broadway opening of the play with songs made famous by country/western star Patsy Cline, author Ted Swindley, reached April 17, was not yet at liberty to comment on the New York mounting. For more information on the Chicago staging of Always, please see the Playbill On-Line story, "Chicago's Apollo Lifts Off With Patsy Cline."
Billed as a "musical-black-comedy romance-thriller," The Green Heart, features a book by Busch and music and lyrics by Magee. Based on a story by Jack Ritchie (which was later adapted into the film A New Leaf, written, directed and then disowned by Elaine May), The Green Heart is being staged by Kenneth Elliott.
Starring in this "horticulturally-correct musical story of a philandering playboy, William Graham, who squanders his own fortune" is David Andrew MacDonald (Night And Her Stars). Karen Trott, author/star of The Springhill Singing Disaster, will play Henrietta, a "loaded and clueless botanist" whom Graham tries to murder.
As "Uta," Alison Fraser returns to Off-Broadway after appearing in Swing Canteen (ironically, when she left that show, she was replaced in the lead role by Charles Busch). Fraser, who is married to Magee, is best known for her work in March Of The Falsettos, Romance/Romance and The Secret Garden. She also appeared on Broadway in 1996's Tartuffe - Born Again. Also in the show are John Ellison Conlee (NYSF's Merry Wives Of Windsor, Two Gentlemen Of Verona), David Andrew MacDonald (MTC's Night And Her Stars), Jeff Edgerton, Lovette George, Don Goodspeed, Julie J. Hafner, Karyn Quackenbush, Jay Russell, Tim Salamandyk and Elizabeth Ward.
Busch, recently Off-Broadway with Flipping My Wig at the WPA, is the author of Red Scare On Sunset, The Lady In Question and Vampire Lesbians Of Sodom. Magee, author of 1995's Ubu Rock, won a 1994 Outer Critics Circle Award for the score to CSC's Scapin. Director Elliott staged 1996's Off-Broadway revival of The Boys In The Band, as well as every comedy Charles Busch has written to date.
At a Feb. 13 open rehearsal of Green Heart at MTC's 16th St., rehearsal space, five songs were performed: "I'm Poor," "I Can't Recall" (for Trott); "The Easy Life," a doo-wop number for the villains, "I'm The Victim Here;" and the title tune. The event, which was introduced by Barry Grove and Lynne Meadow, came off with what production spokesperson Michael Hartman termed, "A very positive feeling. . .a great response. It's gonna be a great show."
Sets for Green Heart are by James Noone, costumes by Robert Mackintosh, lighting by Kirk Bookman, and sound by Tom Morse. Kenneth Joe Baker serves as musical director and Joey McKneely (late of Whistle Down the Wind) choreographs.
For tickets ($30-$45) and information on The Green Heart, which began previews Feb. 25 and runs to May 4, call (212) 239-6200.
--By David Lefkowitz