'New' Porter Show in New Haven

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A.R. Gurney, whose Overtime just went into Manhattan Theatre Club, has a date in New Haven, CT, March 18 with Cole Porter.

A.R. Gurney, whose Overtime just went into Manhattan Theatre Club, has a date in New Haven, CT, March 18 with Cole Porter.

That's when director John Tillinger begins workshopping his latest Gurney at Long Wharf. Titled Let's Do It after the Porter ditty, and liberally sprinkled with more where that came from (courtesy of the Porter estate), the show will mark Gurney's bow as a librettist.

"It's an old [1912] plot I swiped from an Austrian operetta," Gurney admits. "I got it from Billy Wilder. 'The Count of Luxembourg,' it's called. Billy Wilder was going to make a movie of this plot. I was working with Stanley Donen on another project, and he said, 'I heard this great plot. Call up Billy Wilder and see if he is going to use it.' So we called him up, and he said, 'No, I'm too old.' Stanley said, 'Well, here's Pete Gurney. Will you at least tell him the basics of the plot?' I got on the phone, and he said, 'Here's what happens.' I added things of my own, but 'The Count of Luxembourg' is the core."

It's an old Viennese story that was made into an operetta by Franz Lehar (The Merry Widow). "It's about a guy who inherits a title, and he has a gambling habit. He discovers just by accident that he's the count of Luxembourg, and there are a lot of women who want to be called Countess in life so he marries these women by proxy. To support his gambling habit, he gets ten grand a marriage. He never sees these women he marries. He divorces them in three days. At the end of the first act, he sees this beautiful girl, and he asks his friend, 'Who's that beautiful woman?' The friend says, 'That's no woman--that's your wife.'"

Steve Barton, late of The Red Shoes, will play the negotiable count in the workshop. Maureen Moore, Mary Louise Wilson and Don Carrey are set to co-star. The workshop in mid-April will determine when and/if the Porter is importable.

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