Musicals in Mufti, York Theatre Company's popular series of stage musicals in concert, begins its 2000-2001 season Oct. 13-15 with a revival of Rex, the 1976 Richard Rodgers Sheldon Harnick tuner about Henry VIII. As with many of the Mufti shows, Rex was not a hit (it ran just 48 performances), but was a significant footnote in musical theatre history. It was a late-career show for Richard Rodgers, who teamed with Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me), considered one of the great lyricists directly following the Rodgers-Hart-Hammerstein generation.
This is said to be the first revival of the show since its Broadway run in 1976. Two songs cut from Broadway will be added to the score, and Harnick and book writer Sherman Yellen have revised the script.
The ponderous musical about the conflicted misogynist King Henry was considered slow, dry and ballad-heavy at the time (the decade also saw lighter monarch-themed shows such as Pippin and Goodtime Charley). Rodgers followed up with I Remember Mama, a family friendly, old-fashioned show that played 108 performances in 1979.
Patrick Page, currently Lumiere in Broadway's Beauty & the Beast, has the title role. Jay Binder, best known as a Broadway casting director, helms the staged reading, Kevin Stites is musical director and John Michael Degan is lighting designer for the Mufti series.
The Mufti cast includes High Society's Melissa Errico (Anne/Elizabeth), B.D. Wong (Will), Amanda Watkins (as Jane Seymour), Patrick J.P. Duffrey (Edward), Richard Easton (Comus), Paul Schoeffler (King of France/Norfolk), William Parry (Wolsey/Cromwell), Rebecca Eichenberger (Katherine), Catherine Lessner (Queen of France/Lady Margaret) and Chris Sieber (Smeaton). The show was inspired by the lives of King Henry VIII, Queen Anne Boleyn and their daughter Elizabeth. The original Broadway production of Rex played the Lunt Fontanne Theatre and starred Nicol Williamson, Glenn Close, Penny Fuller and Tom Aldredge.
Performances are 8 PM Oct. 13, 2:30 and 8 PM Oct. 14 and 2:30 and 7:30 PM Oct. 15. Tickets are $30. The York Theatre Company is located at the Theatre at Saint Peter's in the Citicorp Center (619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street).
"Mufti" is a term meaning "in civilian clothes" — there are no sets or costumes used, and performers have scripts in hand. Upcoming Mufti shows are Kurt Weill and Paul Green's Johnny Johnson, a 1936 anti-war parable Oct. 20 22; Hallelujah, Baby!, the 1967 musical that traces the black American experience in American history, written by white folks Arthur Laurents, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne, Oct. 27-29; Celebration, the freewheeling 1969 musical by Tom Jones (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music), Jan. 12-14, 2001; Baker Street, the 1965 Sherlock Holmes musical, by librettist Jerome Coopersmith, songwriters Marian Grudeff & Raymond Jessel (and uncredited Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock), Jan. 19-21, 2001; a Frank Loesser musical to be announced, Jan. 26-28, 2001.
For information, call (212) 239-6200.
— By Kenneth Jones