ANNUAL "MR. ABBOTT" AWARD: On Nov. 3, 1997, Garson Kanin, playwright/director/screenwriter/ novelist, will be honored with the 1997 "Mr. Abbott" Award for Lifetime Achievement conferred by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF). Named after the late, celebrated director George Abbott, the award is particularly fitting as Mr. Kanin was Mr. Abbott's assistant on four Broadway shows in the 1930's including Three Men on a Horse and Room Service. Now 84 years of age, Kanin has been in show business for 50 years. He wrote and directed the classic comedy Born Yesterday, the musical Do Re Mi, directed the Broadway productions of The Diary of Anne Frank and Funny Girl and wrote many hit movies.
The Awards Dinner at the Copacabana will also feature two SDCF President's Awards for Outstanding Contribution to the Theatre. Composer/lyricist Jerry Herman will be cited for his many musical hits, and the Chase Manhattan Bank will be recognized for "its philanthropy to theatres and theatre-related organizations, and for its support of the theatre community."
BROADWAY FIRST: In 1980 Theatre Development Fund's Theatre Access Project (TAP) presented the first sign language interpreted performance of a Broadway play The Elephant Man. This season TAP has inaugurated another first open captioning performances of current hits. The first was Christopher Plummer in Barrymore; the next, on October 16 and 19, will be the musical Jekyll & Hyde.
Now, deaf and hard-of-hearing people who do not understand American Sign Language will be able to enjoy live theatre with the aid of an open captioning box. The captioning appears in red letters on a digital screen located in a side section of the orchestra where theatregoers with disabilities will be seated. Scrolled manually in synchronization with the dialogue onstage, the script is entered ahead of time by open-caption developer and operator Don DePew, so that the captions appear with no time delays or transcription errors during the performance. These performances of Jekyll & Hyde will also be sign language interpreted. For information on these performances contact TDF at (212) 221-1103 or (212) 719-4537.
FOR RENT: The tragedy and triumph of that theatrical phenomenon Rent is memorably celebrated in a lavish book that pays tribute to the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical and its author/composer Jonathan Larson, who died at age 35 after the final dress rehearsal of his then soon-to-be acclaimed work. The oversize book, graphically designed by Spot Design, not only contains Larson's libretto and lyrics, but also interviews with his family, friends, all connected with the musical, a history of its evolvement and dazzling photos of the author, the cast and production of Rent.
Simply titled Rent by Jonathan Larson, the book contains interviews and text by Evelyn McDonnell with Katherine Silberger, special photography by Stewart Ferebee and Larry Fink, is produced by Melcher Media, Inc. and published by Rob Weisbach Books (William Morrow and Co., Inc.).
CLUB ERRATUM: We were surprised recently to read in the New York Post that composer Cy Colemen was spotted in Elaine's restaurant discussing his musical Welcome to the Club, which the paper claimed had never been done on Broadway.
We have in front of us a Playbill for the Music Box Theatre dated April 13, 1989, the night that Welcome to the Club opened there. Mr. Coleman wrote the music, the book was by A. E. Hotchner, who collaborated with Mr. Coleman on the lyrics. Unfortunately, it only played 20 previews and 12 performances.-- By Louis Botto