Well, playwright David Hirson won't be comin' round with Wrong Mountain as soon as expected. Producers of the new play, which wraps up a San Francisco run this week, pushed back their first Broadway preview from Dec. 4 to Dec. 27, and the opening from Dec. 14 to Jan. 13, 2000. The explanation given for the move was the producers' wish not to get lost in the year-end rash of New York openings. They may have a point. Scheduled to open within a week (on either side) of Mountain's original unveiling are Swing!, Minnelli on Minnelli, Waiting in the Wings, Amadeus, and, Off-Broadway, Y2K, Hamlet (with Liev Schreiber), If Memory Serves (with Elizabeth Ashley) and Adam Baum and the Jew Movie (with Ron Leibman).
Once Wrong Mountain arrives, it will find itself in the company or another recent peak in theatre writing: Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan will reportedly open on Broadway in March 2000. Patrick Stewart will reprise the role of Lyman Felt he played in the 1998 Public Theater mounting of the play. Miller has intimated that Frances Conroy -- who many people felt gave the performance of the production -- will also be back as Felt's first wife. Mt. Morgan will the first play of recent Miller vintage to hit Broadway since 1993's short-lived Broken Glass.
Broadway was generally busy this week. The James Naughton revival of Miller's The Price opened to good reviews, the third positive reception to the dramatists' work in as many seasons. The Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate was officially unveiled three days later, on Nov. 18, and also basked in a set of equally warm notices. And due to open on Nov. 21 in the Stephen Sondheim revue Putting It Together, revamped by director Eric D. Schaeffer and starring Carol Burnett, George Hearn, John Barrowman, Ruthie Henshall and Bronson Pinchot.
The Broadway-bound Waiting in the Wings, meanwhile, opened in Boston Nov. 13. The Walter Kerr will be waiting for them when they return south Dec. 3.
There was news, in various forms, from the musical world. The Off Broadway hit, The Dead, will now be eligible for all Broadway honors, as the James Joyce adaptation heads to the Belasco Dec. 14 for a 10-week run. John Kander, Fred Ebb and Terrence McNally's musical adaptation of Durrenmatt's The Visit is once again showing signs of life. The long talked-about show will enter a workshop in New York City Dec. 6-17. Surrounding star Angela Lansbury are theatre stalwarts Philip Bosco, John Cunningham and Ronn Carroll, as well as greener talents Jason Danieley and Marc Kudisch. And Wise Guys, the new Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical starring Nathan Lane and Victor Garber, ends its month-long workshop this weekend. It is still scheduled to move uptown in April. Meanwhile, in Chicago -- it may have a new director, a new designer and one new star, but Aida is still accident prone. When the Disney-produced Elton John-Tim Rice musical opened in Atlanta in 1998, it was bedeviled by a malfunctioning mechanical pyramid. The pyramid was dispatched long before the current production opened. This time, however, it was a suspended tomb, carrying stars Adam Pascal and Heather Headley, that went awry, snapping a cable and sending its stars tumbling to the floor. Pascal and Headley were not seriously harmed and resumed performances of the musical on Nov. 18 (two shows were canceled and understudies filled in on Nov. 17). Aida plays through the New Year in Chicago and is due in New York in the spring.
Also in Chicago, the John Malkovich-directed Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of Terry Johnson's Hysteria had a last-minute cast change, in the lead role of Sigmund Freud, no less. Long-standing Steppenwolf ensemble member Alan Wilder departed for "personal reasons," and was replaced by Yasen Peyankov.
Steppenwolf was never known as a home of toe-tapping diversions, but the theatre will change its ways in the fall of 2000, when it stages its first new musical ever. Composer Mike Reid told Playbill On-Line that the company will produce his and Sarah Sclesinger's The Ballad of Little Jo next season. Tina Laudau will direct. The show is based on a real story about a 19th-century frontier woman who spent her life masquerading as a man.
Across the sea, it appears London producers have a little more steel than their American counterparts. When Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi opened in New York last year, the din of protest against the play pretty much squelched any hope for a commercial transfer. In London, there have been protests, and mixed reviews -- as well as a Fatwa issued against the playwright by a Muslim fringe group. But box office has been good and producers are considered a transfer to the West End.
Finally, word has come to this column that Peter Marks will be leaving his critic's post at The New York Times in a few weeks. Marks, who began his duties as second-string drama critic in 1997, after a stint as the On Stage and Off columnist, will trade in his aisle seat to beat a path alongside the 2000 Presidential campaign trail. A few years of theatre reporting seems as good a training as anything for that particular assignment.