PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, April 19-25: Outer Limits

ICYMI   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, April 19-25: Outer Limits For the last full week in April, it was a quiet time on Broadway, with nary an opening in sight. (Next week's a different story.) The Outer Critics Circle, whose members come from no one's exactly sure where, took advantage of the lull to collect more attention than they usually do, mostly at the expense of the new revival of Gypsy.

Last week, New York Post columnist Michael Reidel rather gleefully reported (but, then, he reports most everything with undisguised glee) that Gypsy director Sam Mendes—he of the Tony and the Oscar—met with the OCC nominating committee—they who yearly watch the Tonys and Oscars on their television sets—to make his case that the Gypsy they saw was not the Gypsy that would open on May 1. Reidel, who has been beating up on the musical for weeks now, reported that many Broadwayites tut-tutted over this supposedly unseemly meeting. Whether in good taste or not, Gulliver's trip to Lilliput did him little good. Mendes got on OCC nomination as did Gypsy. But that was it. Bernadette Peters, who missed three performances this week, was passed by.

Which all adds up to about as much of the spotlight as the little old OCC is ever likely to claim, and far more than it deserves. That Mendes paid any mind at all is rather unexpected, since the OCC nods will likely be forgotten on Monday, when the Drama League Award nominations are announced. Which will fade from memory May 1 when the Drama Desk nominations are unveiled, followed by the brief distraction of the Obie Awards (which don't really interest theatre award devotees because the Obies don't recognize the flashy products of Broadway and have no nominations, thus eliminated the thrilling backstage blood sport of an artistic horse race). All earlier contests will be cast into oblivion when the nominations for the Tony Awards come along. And so it goes every spring.

Theatregoers who are missing their favorite television shows because of the jam-packed theatre schedule can at least derive a vicarious thrill at Writer's Block, the world premiere of Woody Allen's two new one-act comedies, at the Atlantic Theater Company. The show began previews April 23 and the cast represents several decades of TV history. Bebe Neuwirth spent years on "Cheers." Paul Reiser starred in "Mad About You" for nearly a decade. Jay Thomas and Grant Shaud were both regulars on "Murphy Brown" and Thomas appeared in several other sitcoms. Skipp Sudduth is a principal on "Third Watch" and Clea Lewis was one of the stars of "Ellen." I thought Woody was a movie guy.

Polly Bergen, Matt Bogart, Milo O'Shea and Michael Nouri will likely star with Linda Eder in the new Frank Wildhorn-Nan Knighton musical, Camille Claudel, which debuts Aug. 14-Sept. 7 at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre. This is the first production in some time from Wildhorn, who just a short time ago was an omnipresence on Broadway. Mark Dendy will choreograph and Gabriel Barre directs the new musical, which is aimed at Broadway for spring 2004.

Hamony, the Barry Manilow musical which has been in limbo for several years, announced this week it will play Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse beginning Oct. 21. The plan is to reach Broadway by winter 2004. Also set for 2004 is a new revival of the high-energy musical Dreamgirls. Scott Sanders' company, Creative Battery, recently obtained the rights to the musical, and the search is now on for a director. And the National Actors Theatre, which, despite its often precarious financial straits, seems ever unafraid of scheduling a wonderously uncommerical attraction, has announced a new production of Aeschylus' The Persians begining performances May 22 at Pace University's Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts. Len Cariou, Roberta Maxwell and Michael Stuhlbarg star. Ethan McSweeny directs.