Philly Cast of 3hree Steps Into Studio Jan. 9 & 11; Cast Album Due in March

News   Philly Cast of 3hree Steps Into Studio Jan. 9 & 11; Cast Album Due in March 3hree, the trio of one-act musicals embraced in its Philadelphia world premiere in November, gets a cast album from DRG Records in March 2001, featuring the Philly company.

3hree, the trio of one-act musicals embraced in its Philadelphia world premiere in November, gets a cast album from DRG Records in March 2001, featuring the Philly company.

The cast of the Prince Music Theatre production goes into the recording studio Jan. 9 and 11 in Manhattan. The orchestra will count 18 in the studio, with extra strings and reeds added for sweetener, Fordin said.

The musicals by different authors and directors — The Mice, Lavender Girl and The Flight of the Lawnchair Man — played the Prince Oct. 25-Nov. 19. Legendary director Harold Prince, for whom the Philly complex is named, directed Lawnchair Man. Fordin saw the tuneful show and knew it was a property he wanted to record.

Rave reviews of the evening prompted speculation a Broadway transfer was likely. Producer Barry Brown previously told Playbill On-Line he is in exploratory talks with the creators of 3hree for a commercial staging. Producers Anita Waxman and Elizabeth Williams are also involved, with Brown. There is also talk that a resident theatre may offer a home to the production, perhaps prior to New York.

Currently, there are no Broadway theatres available for 3hree to move into by the end of the current season (May 1), although The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe has only announced a run to Feb. 25. There is speculation that the Lily Tomlin vehicle will continue beyond that date. In December, producer Brown limited his plans for 3hree as being at the "exploratory" level (much like his exploratory talks with the Goodman Theatre to possibly stage the Brown-shepherded musical, The Visit in the 2001-2002 season).

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3hree — a title some critics have found ungainly — was almost entirely sold out for the final Philly performances, helped by a laudatory Nov. 16 New York Times review.

Legendary director Prince (Evita, Sweeney Todd, Fiddler on the Roof) staged only The Flight of the Lawnchair Man, a comic look at man's desire to fly. Robert Lindsey Nassif and Peter Ullian penned the piece, about an average fellow who hopes to soar by attaching hot air balloons to his lawnchair.

Also on the bill were the ironic The Mice, by Laurence O'Keefe, Nell Benjamin and Julia Jordan, directed by Brad Rouse (who has served as assistant to Hal Prince since 1995); and John Bucchino and James Waedekin's Lavender Girl, with Scott Schwartz (York Theatre's No Way to Treat a Lady and Broadway's Jane Eyre) directing. The choreographer is Rob Ashford (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Paper Mill Playhouse's Pippin).

"I thought 3hree would be a very speedy way of introducing a lot of talented people to an audience," Prince said, talking to Playbill On-Line. "To put on a new, full-length show takes a lot of time. To create a show that is 2 hours 20 minutes would take me three years. I'm a slow worker! Instead, I said why not find three one-act musicals. I would work on one, two other guys would take the other two, and we could do it in a year. And we have. I consider ourselves lucky. These are three one-act musicals, and they dovetail in a nice way — although I didn't plan it that way. I didn't put on too many restrictions. But I did say we won't do them on a unit set. Each show deserves its own vision and overture. And I wanted all nine [cast members] in all three of them."

Discussing how he came to choose the teams of artists working on this production, Prince said, "A year ago this past summer I started to put the word out. I approached two men that I kind of mentored, Robert Lindsey Nasiff and Peter Ullian, and said, "I'd like to work with you. Would you get an idea for a one-act musical?" And they did. A wonderful new composer, John Bucchino, who is very popular, had written Urban Myths, which was a collection of eight one-act musicals. My daughter Daisy had said to me that there's one that would work really well in an evening of one-acts. That was Lavender Girl. So we approached him and he did more re writing, fleshed it out some and now it stands on its own.

"We got many, many ideas presented. There were some ideas that I didn't think that highly of, but these [selected ones] are very strong. We spent last year developing them and held a reading at the Director's Company last May. The reading went awfully well, I think. Marjorie came to see it and said 'Let's do it.'"

— By Kenneth Jones
and David Lefkowitz and Christine Ehren