If this keeps up, pretty soon they'll have to rename it from "Irene" to, say, "Louise."
A week ago, Emily Skinner bowed out of a NY concert staging of Irene due to a doctor's recommendation to rest her voice. Now comes news that Beth Fowler (Beauty and the Beast) had to beg off the project due to a back injury. Taking her place will be Alix Korey, who was featured in the York Theatre Company's Off-Broadway revival of No Way To Treat A Lady.
Performer and co-director Donald E. Birely told Playbill On-Line (Feb. 12) Skinner -- half of the Hilton twins in Broadway's Side Show -- had already been "singing on top of a cold" at the star-studded Ethel Merman tribute Feb. 2. Doctors therefore recommended she take several weeks to rest her voice. (To Birely's knowledge, however, this has no connection to the rumors that Side Show may return in the spring.) Penny Worth, who was in the 1973 Irene, has taken the Skinner role. Worth was also on Broadway opposite Katharine Hepburn in Coco.
NY's Sylvia & Danny Kaye Playhouse is the place to be, Feb. 23, to catch a concert staging of the musical Irene. Featured performers include Lee Roy Reams (Applause, 42nd Street), George S. Irving and Ruth Warrick, as well as other members of the 1973 revival cast. Also appearing are Marty Bongfeldt, Bob Freschi, cabaret performer (and club owner) Sidney Myer, Mary Stout, Marguerite Shannon, Michael Beltran, Sue Birch, Donald E. Birely (who co directs, with Mike Harmon), John Bubb, Richard Costa, Kathy Dacey, Don Farrell, Judy Fitzgerald, Amy D. Forbes, Sandi DeGeorge, Amy Dolan, Kelly Donohue, Timothy Ford, Christopher Gladysz, Lauren Glazer and more than a dozen ensemble players.
The 1919 musical Irene was revived March 13, 1973 and ran 604 performances. The revised version of the show (which will be used for this concert) features a book by Hugh Wheeler (Sweeney Todd) and Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof), based on a play by James Montgomery. Harry Tierney (music) and Joseph McCarthy (lyrics) penned the score, with help from Charles Gaynor and Otis Clements. At the concert staging, Bruce Lea will recreate Peter Gennaro's original choreography, with Thom Conroy and Robert Meffe serving as musical directors.
The Feb. 23, "25th Anniversary Celebration" of Irene, presented by DB Productions and Metro Players, will be a benefit for Gilda's Club, a support service for people with cancer formed in memory of Gilda Radner.
For tickets ($25-$75) and information on Irene at the Kaye Playhouse in Hunter College on 68th St., call (212) 772-4448.
-- By David Lefkowitz