NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT A star about to be born (as soon as Busker Alley gets back on Tommy Tune's two feet): Darcie Roberts is spending the interim nicely, most recently as leading lady to Damn Yankees Tony winner Jarrod Emick in the first New York appearance of America's Sweetheart in 64 years! The two-night reading at Theatre Off-Park was one of five seldom-seen Rodgers & Hart shows being presented there by its artistic director, Albert Harris, in honor of Lorenz Hart's 100th birthday. Next up, after this month's Too Many Girls: 1940's Higher and Higher (April 14-15) and 1926's Peggy Ann (June 9-10). . . . The tall and the talented (Tune again) got off a guest shot on "The Bold and the Beautiful," playing himself signing up that show's soap stud, "Thorne Forester," to replace Jon Secada as Danny Zuko in the Broadway Grease!, Now, "Forester" (a.k.a. Jeff Trachta) is in full sway in the musical, along with Joe Piscopo as deejay Vince Fontaine. There may be more cross-media plugs to come.
A TOUCH OF CLASSICS The University of Pittsburgh Press uses the adjective advisedly with its just-published Classic Plays from the Negro Ensemble Company; entries include Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier's Play, Joseph A. Walker's Tony-winning The River Niger and Phillip Hayes Dean's The Sty of the Blind Pig.
. . . Another Dean play, Paul Robeson, just got a Main Stem revival from producers Eric Krebs and Anne Strickland Squadron--the title role making Avery Brooks the second "Star Trek" star to set down on Broadway this season (after Patrick Stewart's limited run in Shakespeare's The Tempest). . . . Sharing a table at B. Smith's at the Robeson opening were a couple of authors who are coming out of the chute this month: Jerry Sterner, whose book for Topper lifts off (with a lode of Cole Porter songs) at the Musical Theatre Works, and Art Metrano, whose autobiographical one-man show Twice Blessed bows at the Union Square. . . . David Warren, who's directing the latter, just gave Broadway a lilting Holiday. Philip Barry, Jr. (the late author's son), wife Patricia and Richard Gere were the first backstage to congratulate Laura Linney and Reg Rogers (who drew love notices from critics for their portrayals of the pampered pre-Depression rich); Gere, incidentally, co-stars with both L.L. and R.R. in a new film thriller (Primal Fear).
--By Harry Haun