The Off-Broadway company making its own kind of music in Beautiful Thing, at the Cherry Lane Theatre, will stop dancing June 27.
The New York premiere of British playwright Jonathan Harvey's coming-of-age, coming-out-of-the-closet comedy-drama began previews Feb. 4 at the Cherry Lane and opened Feb. 14, Valentine's Day.
The production was a lift from a 1998 staging by Chicago's Famous Door Theatre. Gary Griffin, the busy Chicago director, helmed a cast featuring Matt Stinton, Dan Gold, Susan Bennett, Kirsten Sahs and Kurt Brocker. Sahs won a Joseph Jefferson Award for her performance as a harried but loving mother in the Chicago mounting of the play. During the Off-Broadway run, Brocker was replaced by Mark Neibuhr.
Beautiful Thing first saw the light of day at London's Bush Theatre in a production that starred a then-unknown Johnny Lee Miller (subsequently to achieve fame as Sickboy in the film, "Trainspotting") as one of two teen-age boys acting on his dawning sexuality.
A Donmar Warehouse production in London in 1993 was a recast restaging, and subsequently transferred to the Duke of York's, before it was turned into a warmly-embraced movie. The play captures the awakening love between two male teenagers growing up in southeast London. Early print ads for the Off-Broadway run showed the pals coyly holding hands, dressed in their school uniforms. As spring continued, the ads, apparently in an attempt to arouse interest in the work, showed them slumbering, one of them shirtless.
Griffin is one of the hottest resident directors in Chicago; last year he was nominated for four Best Director Jeff Awards for musicals staged in 1997-98. He recently staged the Chicago premiere of Gross Indecency at the Court Theatre and is an artistic associate at Apple Tree Theatre. This production will mark his Off-Broadway debut.
Griffin directed the American premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Saturday Night, the revisions of which Sondheim oversaw, for Pegasus Players in Chicago. It opened May 19 and continues to June 27, 1999.
Beautiful Thing is produced by Roy Gabay, whose producing credits include How I Learned to Drive and Side Man.
For information, call (212) 239-6200.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson