Rollin' on the T.O.B.A. First Preview at Kit Kat Klub Scratched

News   Rollin' on the T.O.B.A. First Preview at Kit Kat Klub Scratched
 
The Off-Broadway sleeper, Rollin' on the T.O.B.A., expected to begin previews March 17 at the Kit Kat Klub at Henry Miller's Theatre, postponed its first performance, but by press time the reason for the delay was not known.

The Off-Broadway sleeper, Rollin' on the T.O.B.A., expected to begin previews March 17 at the Kit Kat Klub at Henry Miller's Theatre, postponed its first performance, but by press time the reason for the delay was not known.

A spokesperson for the show said March 17 that it was not clear when previews would continue. It also could not be determined if the delay involved the relationship between the Kit Kat's tenant-operators and the building's landlord.

The revue about the early days of black vaudeville previously played at the 47th Street Theatre before moving to the larger Kit Kat venue, former home of Cabaret, where producer Ashton Springer may be allowed to earn Tony Award eligibility, if he or the venue apply for that status. The official opening is March 24, if and when previews continue.

In its move to the Kit Kat Klub, the three-person show added drums, bass saxophone and trumpet to the original piano accompaniment. Also added was a larger set (by designer Larry W. Brown). The cast -- Sandra Reaves Phillips, Rudy Roberson and co-creator Ronald "Smokey" Stevens -- remains the same.

According to producer Springer, the show was originally mounted for $200,000, with an extra quarter million added for the move. The break even point, not counting advertising, will be $70,000 per week. Conceived by Stevens and Jaye Stewart, T.O.B.A. is subtitled "A Tribute to the Last Days of Black Vaudeville" and offers segments devoted to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Bert Williams and Butterbeans & Suzie. Several pieces are taken from Langston Hughes' "The Simple Stories."

T.O.B.A. is an acronym Theatre Owners' Booking Association, but performers had a different phrase for it: "Tough On Black Asses." No deals have yet been made regarding recording the show for CD release.

Stevens and Leslie Dockery direct the show, which features musical direction and arrangements by David Alan Bunn and additional material by Irvin S. Bauer. Jon Kusner (lighting), Michele Reisch (costumes) and Shabach Audio (sound) are the designers.

Springer, John Grimaldi and Frenchmen Productions, Inc. produced both the 47th Street Theatre engagement and the move. T.O.B.A. opened Off Broadway Jan. 28 after starting previews Jan. 20.

For tickets to Rollin' On The T.O.B.A. at the Kit Kat Klub at Henry Miller's Theatre, call Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200.

-- By Kenneth Jones
and David Lefkowitz

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