What better way to reopen a long-dormant theatre space than with a parade? In this case, the space is a small, cabaret-style venue on NYC's Lafayette Street (across the street from the Public Theatre), and the show is Waiting For The Parade, a five-woman comedy-drama by John Murrell. Previews began Jan. 29 for a Feb. 8 official opening and a run through (at least) Apr. 4.
The production was put together by members of the acclaimed Willow Cabin company, though the show -- like the space -- is being run by Frog Entertainment, which has owned the building for many years. Dee Shipley, executive producer of Waiting and a full-time Frog producer, told Playbill On-Line the Lafayette Street building has three spaces: a restaurant, a lounge, and a cabaret-style theatre space. "The Dominion hasn't been used for straight theatre in 20 years," said Shipley. "It was used as a nightclub, a music spot, a comedy space... but Waiting for the Parade was the first production here for a long, long time."
According to Shipley, the space's last tenant was the Colonnades Theatre, pre-Hollywood theatre home to such notables as Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas. The last theatrical tenant was a biggie, though: Pump Boys and Dinettes.
"It's a great space," Shipley said of the Dominion, "with 99 seats that can go up to 120. We have a fantastic lighting grid and high-tech sound, because Frog Entertainment also produces music. We have a digital recording studio in the basement." Frog Entertainment president Robert Ogden worked on the CD releases for several shows at the now-defunct Village Gate, and a Frog CD release of Abyssinia is in the works.
"The Dominion is a fabulous space to develop product in," continued Shipley. "It's great for plays, musicals, cabaret shows and one-man shows. It's a great laboratory to develop things in, and even have a great production here. Some things will move, some won't, that's just the nature of theatre." Why did Ogden choose Waiting for the Parade as the Dominion's inaugural show? "We were working on producing some other pieces off premises," said Shipley, "and four co-producers of Parade (who are also actresses in the piece) said, `we're looking for a house to do this project.' They'd wanted to do a showcase, but it was such a great play, Frog decided to produce and develop it here. We'll play it for eight weeks and then see how long we want to extend it for."
Set in the 1940s, Waiting for the Parade has elements of Song of Singapore, what with "swing dancing and cigarette & candy girls" adding to the Dominion's atmosphere during the staging. Amy Gaipa, Alice Cannon, Yasmine Delawari, Molly Owen and Angela Redman star.
Whatever happens with Murrell's play, Ogden and Co. plan to keep doing theatre at the Dominion. Already a five-man comedy is planned following the run of Parade.
For tickets and information on Waiting for the Parade at the Dominion Theatre, 428 Lafayette Street, call (212)473-1698.
-- By David Lefkowitz