PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 23-29: Old and Young

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 23-29: Old and Young John Van Druten's Old Acquaintance has the honor of becoming the first Broadway opening of the 2007-08 season.
Harriet Harris and Margaret Colin star in Old Acquaintance.
Harriet Harris and Margaret Colin star in Old Acquaintance. Photo by Joan Marcus

Produced at the Roundabout Theatre Company, it's the kind of revival nobody could have predicted. The play hasn't been seen on Broadway since its 1940 debut and is most remembered for the 1943 Bette Davis-Miriam Hopkins film version it gave birth to.Director Michael Wilson decided to recall it to life, however, and Harriet Harris and Margaret Colin, two respected stage actresses, play the two central characters, literary dames who both love and hate each other. Alas, Van Druten, who was a theatre titan in the 1940s and '50s, will have to wait a little longer for his renaissance. While some critics thought there was still some life in the old script, the general opinion was that the effort was scuttled by the very different performance styles of Colin (natural, human) and Harris (histrionic, overstated).

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How confident is writer-producer Mel Brooks? $450-a-ticket confident. That's how much top "premier" seats at Friday and Saturday performances of his Young Frankenstein will be. The price is a new Broadway record. Back when The Producers came to town, Brooks and company waited until the rave reviews rolled in before sending ticket prices into the stratosphere. Below premier seats will be premium seats, which will go for $375. The remaining seats in the orchestra and dress circle will be sold for $120. Seats in the balcony will cost $60-$80. Tickets go on sale July 15. Start saving.

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The cast of Manhattan Theatre Club's Broadway production of Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius — about two sisters and a stamp collection — is steeped in experience. Featured will be F. Murray Abraham, Dylan Baker and Katie Finneran, as well as Bobby Cannavale and Alison Pill. Doug Hughes will direct. Though Rebeck has been hammering away at the drawing board for two decades or so, this will actually be her Broadway debut. Opening is Oct. 4. ***

Grey Gardens is losing one its Tony-winners. Mary Louise Wilson — who won a Tony June 10 for her turn as the monstrously selfish, bed-ridden Edith Bouvier Beale, who had her cake and ate it, and makes an kick-ass cob of corn — will leave on July 29. Wilson has been with the show for three years, through developmental workshop and its Off-Broadway debut.

The show's Little Edie, Christine Ebersole will continue with Grey Gardens into fall 2007. After that time, she will re-create her Tony-winning performance for the musical's London debut during the 2007-08 season.

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If you lived in the United States during the past 30 years or so, and knew the name of only one Canadian stage actor, it was probably William Hutt, who died June 27 at the age of 87. Hutt was an institution north of the border. He was a founding member of the Stratford Festival, where he spent 39 seasons, acting in 130 productions. He was Lear, Falstaff, James Tyrone, Prospero, Tartuffe, Lady Bracknell — any towering role you could mention. The popular Canadian television series "Slings and Arrows," about a theatre company very much like Stratford, nodded to Hutt's status in 2006 by casting him as a aging Shakespearean legend (the DVD of Hutt's season on "Slings and Arrows," coincidentally, gets released July 3). Hutt himself knew how good he had it and had little desire to inspect the grass on the other side of the fence. "What better circumstances could I find myself in?," he said. "I had continuous work. I was associated with the greatest playwright in the English language and with a company that produces his plays with love, passion and a good budget."

Thomas Meehan, Mel Brooks and Susan Stroman, creators of <i>Young Frankenstein</i> which will have a top ticket price of $450.
Thomas Meehan, Mel Brooks and Susan Stroman, creators of Young Frankenstein which will have a top ticket price of $450. Photo by Paul Kolnik