Craig Dawson, the owner and host of Barrymore's Restaurant on 45th St., is about to do a little acting of his own this summer, shifting his nighttime operations a block west to the 45th Street Theatre (354 West 45th St.) where he will co-star June 26-August 30 in Jayson, a new musical comedy based on a nationally syndicated gay comic strip.
In this, his second New York stage appearance -- the first was in the also gay-themed Party -- Dawson plays Robyn Ricketts, an outlandish crossdressing filmmaker who engages in a tug-of-war with a self-described Jewish "fag hag," Miss Arena Stage (Susan Agin), over a twentysomething hayseed new to The Big City, Jason Callowhill (Brian Cooper).
The production, which begins previews June 26 and opens July 10, has a book by the comic strip's creator, Jeff Krell, and songs by Ron Romanovsky and Paul Phillips. Jay Michaels will direct the piece, with musical direction by Simon Deacon and choreography by Kyle Craig. The sets are by Jim McNicholas and the costumes by Julia VanVliet.
Also featured in the cast are Mark Haen, Jane Smulyan, Alicia Litwin and Kenny Morris.
Writer-illustrator Krell originally conceived Jayson in 1982 as a comic strip for the Philadelphia Gay News, and it acquired a national audience when it was published in Gay Comix and the acclaimed Meatmen series of gay cartoon anthologies. Later the comic strip was syndicated to gay and lesbian newspapers in more than a dozen cities. The performance schedule for Jayson is Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 7 PM through Aug. 30. All tickets are $28. For information and reservations, call Ticket Central at 212-279-4200.
-- By Harry Haun