Elaine May and Alan Arkin star in Power Plays, a trio of one-act plays starting previews April 14 at Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre. He will be joined onstage by writer/performer May, who hasn't been in a New York show since the early 1960s (though she wrote one of the plays in the 1995 comic trio, Death Defying Acts).
Power Plays, with two works by May and one by Arkin, tried out at Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre Mar. 6-29 and will open May 21 -- pushed back twice; first from Apr. 30, then from May 7. Asked about the delays, a production spokesperson told Playbill On-Line the producers wanted to give the show "a more normal preview period," rather than just a short jump from its Florida tryout. Manhattan Theatre Club is executive producing.
Also in the cast are May's daughter, Jeanne Berlin, an Academy Award nominee for her supporting role in The Heartbreak Kid, and Arkin's son, Anthony.
According to the Times, the evening came about when Arkin sent his one act, Virtual Reality, to producer Julian Schlossberg. May saw the reading and added her own play, The Way Of All Fish, to the evening. Later, she wrote the third piece, the farcical "Dr. Kastenbaum's End," now titled In and Out of the Light Or, Dr. Kessleman's End. The latter piece will feature Arkin as a dentist and May as his assistant.
The last time the two worked together as actors was when they were both in different Chicago improv troupes in the 1950s. Arkin is best known for his film work (Catch 22, Simon) but his theatre credits include directing The Soft Touch in Boston in 1975 and Jules Feiffer's The White House Murder Case Off Broadway in 1970, as well as the original Sunshine Boys and Little Murders. Arkin junior has worked at NY's Miranda Theatre, Westbank Cafe and 42nd Street Collective. (Arkin's other son, Adam, is also a stage and television actor, best known for playing Dr. Shutt in "Chicago Hope." Arkin's other other son, Matthew, is now on Broadway in The Sunshine Boys.) May's plays include Adaptation, Not Enough Rope and Mr. Gogol And Mr. Preen.
Designing Power Plays will be Michael McGarty (Master Class, Cakewalk) on sets; Michael Krass on costumes, Adam Silverman on lighting and Andrew S. Keister on sound.
For tickets ($47.50) and information on Power Plays at the Promenade Theatre, 2162 Broadway, call (212) 580-1313.
-- By David Lefkowitz