WHAT'S HAPPENING BEHIND THE SCENES
THE BLUE AND THE GOLD: Renting space at Primary Stages, a brand-new theatre group just flickered into existence in a blaze of colors: The Blue Light Theatre Company bowed with "Golden Boy," Clifford Odets' saga of a prizefighting violinist. The company's actor-manager, Greg Naughton, assigned himself the title role, and incestuous though it sounds, he talked his Tony-winning dad, James ("City of Angels") Naughton, into playing his romantic rival for ring moll "Lorna Moon" (Angie Phillips, evoking the brassy spirit of the role's original, Frances Farmer).
Joanne Woodward directed a version with Dylan McDermott in the lead at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and signed up for this Round Two. And, yes, her husband, Paul Newman, joined the opening-night party at the West Bank Cafe. His last stage appearance was a cameo as a corpse in the "Arsenic and Old Lace" revival she acted in up at Long Wharf.
Fantasy: Wouldn't it be nice if the Newmans did a "Long Day's Journey Into Night"? James Naughton, who won a Theatre World Award as the younger son in that O'Neill classic, has always longed to play the alcoholic older brother, and this would give him the chance--plus, it would leave the other part open to his real-life brother, David. Or, for that matter, son Greg.
FOGLIA RISING: Leonard Foglia got his first New York job at Manhattan Theatre Club, helping Paul Benedict direct F. Murray Abraham and Kathy Bates in a Terrence McNally play called "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune." That led to his directing several road-company versions and a prolific directing career Off-Broadway. The call to direct his first Broadway show ("Master Class") came from McNally the morning after the playwright saw what Foglia did to the much-applauded "Lonely Planet" at the Perry Street Theatre (Foglia was a guest on Playbill On-Line . . . Completing this cycle-of-sorts, Foglia's next job is to bring to Manhattan Theatre Club this spring a three-acter opus he directed last summer at Sag Harbor's Bay Street: "By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea." McNally wrote a third of it (as did Joe Pintauro, Lanford Wilson). AVI MEARA: It doubtlessly helps, but you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Avi Hoffman's delightful "Too Jewish?" Anne Meara will be happy to do an unsolicited testimonial anytime anyplace. Of course, she happens to have married Jewish, and when he (Jerry Stiller) and Rita Moreno joined Meara in Meara's "After-Play" at Theater Four, Hoffman caught her act. . . . Although she made no mention of it in her delectable one-woman diatribe at The Public ("Wake Up, I'm Fat"), Camryn Manheim actually just shed 30 pounds--"on the same low-fat diet that Tony Kushner lost his 100 pounds on."
-- By Harry Haun