The question of the hour on Broadway is what show will be getting the highly-coveted Helen Hayes Theatre. The building is currently home to the comedy Getting and Spending, but sources in the industry don't expect that production to last long. The major candidates to take its place are MCC Theatre's hit production of Margaret Edson's Wit and Second Stage's mounting of Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth.
However, another suspect is a former Helen Hayes resident: comedian Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman. Helen Hayes owner Martin Markinson told Playbill On-Line Becker had contacted him about returning to the Broadway house for a ten-week run.
The Broadway production of Caveman closed June 21, 1997 after 671 performances. Becker has been with the touring production of the one man play since January 1997.
Meanwhile, Markinson has been taking in performances of Wit and This Is Our Youth. Markinson said his current plans are to run Getting and Spending, which he is co-producing, until after Thanksgiving -- though it may close earlier than that, depending on the box office numbers. MCC initially extended Wit to Oct. 24, then Nov. 22, and has now moved its closing date to Jan. 3, 1999.
The tragic but verbally nimble drama (about an icy but verbally nimble poetry professor stricken with fourth-stage ovarian cancer) opened Sept. 17. According to Boneau/Bryan Brown, Wit has become MCC's biggest success. Meanwhile, the production still hopes to transfer to a bigger house for a commercial run. "They are working on it very hard," said Edson's agent Caroline French. "The problem is there is not an appropriate theatre available. Four-hundred seats would be ideal. We'd even take the Helen Hayes at 500 seats if it were available. Anything less, the show would not make money." Edson said the Shuberts had offered the Booth, but the theatre was rejected as too big for the play.
This Is Our Youth opened Nov. 3 at Second Stage to rave reviews. The play, set in the early '80s, concerns a trio of disaffected trust fund kids and their misadventures on the Upper West Side on New York.
Markinson has also been talking with the producer of the Yasmina Reza play The Unexpected Man, which is expected on Broadway in the spring.
-- By Robert Simonson