The popular TV show "Seinfeld" may have signed off for the last time May 14, but two of the sitcom's stars, Jason Alexander and Jerry Seinfeld himself, are preparing shows for Broadway.
As reported previously on Playbill On-Line, Seinfeld is preparing a comedy concert, I'm Telling You for the Last Time, for Broadway production in August 1998. Warmup gigs have been announced in Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Australia and Great Britain.
Alexander, a Tony Award winner for Jerome Robbins' Broadway is working with Annie composer Charles Strouse on a musical adaptation of the Oscar-winning film Marty, which would have lyrics by Lee Adams and book by Aaron Sorkin. Strouse & Adams wrote the score to Bye Bye Birdie, a TV adaptation of which starred Alexander.
Here are details:
I'M TELLING YOU FOR THE LAST TIME Seinfeld's concert, tentatively titled I'm Telling You for the Last Time, will occur on Sunday, Aug. 9 at a Broadway theatre to be announced. Toby Becker, a spokesman at HBO Original Productions, which plans to tape the concert for a future television special, would not say whether that was the first date or the last date or the only date of the engagement--only that it was a date. Tickets for the event are not yet on sale. Seinfeld has said that he wants a regular Broadway audience for the concert, not a group of VIPs.
Currently, only two Broadway theatres are empty: the Richard Rodgers (which is booked for the fall), and the Eugene O'Neill, where The Herbal Bed recently closed. Others may become available after the June 7 Tony Awards.
Seinfeld will precede the New York concert series with U.S. bookings in Texas, Iowa and Nebraska. AP reports that the Texas booking is set for July 17-18 at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio. Seinfeld reportedly is booked in Omaha, NE on July 24-25 and in Des Moines, Iowa, on July 31 and Aug. 1.
Other bookings have been announced in Australia, a handful of June performances in Melbourne and Sydney. Also, The Albemarle's of London website reports that Seinfeld will make his West End debut doing two stand-up gigs, July 12, at the Palladium.
"Seinfeld" star Jason Alexander Playbill On-Line in August 1997 that he is planning to return to Broadway "in a very special way, with a very special project," the stage musical adaptation of the Academy Award-winning 1955 film Marty.
Broadway veterans Charles Strouse and Lee Adams are collaborating with playwright/screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men) on the project.
"Work is progressing nicely," said Alexander from his Jason Entertainment offices on the 20th Century-Fox Studio lot in Hollywood. "Within a year to a year-and-a half, we'll take a look at it and begin thinking about a workshop and how we'll come to Broadway. As far as we're concerned, the sooner the better."
James Weissenbach is the producer of record. Alexander said that all rights to the film had been obtained by Weissenbach from M-G-M studios and the estate of the late screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky "contingent on my involvement in the musical."
Alexander, the Tony-winning star of Jerome Robbins' Broadway, also co-starred in the short lived 1981 Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical Merrily We Roll Along, in which Weissenbach briefly also co-starred as Franklin Shepard. He was replaced during previews.
Weissenbach told Playbill On-Line (May 13) that the musical will go into production either late in the 1998-99 season or in the 1999-2000 season, depending when the script and score are ready.
"The problem with so many musicals, I think, is that they're rushed in," said Weissenbach. "We won't start until it's ready. No one would like it fast better than me. But the most important thing is that it be great -- that it lives up to Jason's talent."
Asked whether the great demand for Alexander's time would tempt him to skip Marty, Weissenbach said, "Jason's smart -- he's not jumping into another TV series. If that were the case, then I'd be worried."
Composer Strouse and lyricist Adams are best known for the 1961 Tony winning Best Musical Bye Bye Birdie. Strouse, of course, is famous for his Annie score. Sorkin took Broadway by storm with his 1990 sleeper hit A Few Good Men, which was made into a hit film starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore.
In Marty, Alexander will play the role of a Bronx butcher, a homely mama's boy who doesn't plan to find love, but does. On screen, the role earned an Oscar for Ernest Borgnine. Chayefsky also won for his screenplay, which had originally been presented as a TV special.
"We've got an outline of the show," Alexander last summer, "and five songs are finished. We've sat back and taken a look and listen and we're quite pleased."
Strouse updated the show's status for Playbill On-Line (May 13), saying the score is now about half finished. Strouse, whose other scores include Applause, Rags, Golden Boy, and It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman!, described the score as being "Imbued with the Bronx in the 1950s. It was the era of the great Italian singers -- Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Frankie Valli, the Modernaires -- and the score will have that kind of 50s-ish cast to it."
Though Strouse was raised in Manhattan, he said he spent part of his teenage years at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx during roughly the same period.
Alexander's most recent singing role was in ABC-TV's "Wonderful World of Disney" on Nov. 2, 1997, in Disney's new adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein favorite, "Cinderella." The $10 million special, with contemporary orchestrations and arrangements, also starred pop singer Brandy, Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters, Whoopi Goldberg, Paolo Montalban, Veanne Cox and Natalie Desselle. Alexander portrayed the added role of the prince's steward.
In May 1997, he co-starred in the Los Angeles "Reprise!" concert staging of the 1968 Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Neil Simon musical Promises, Promises at UCLA's Freud Playhouse. The "Reprise!" reprise was itself reprised in August, with Alexander again playing Chuck Baxter.
Alexander, in what could easily be called his busiest two years, also starred in the 1997 film adaptation of Love! Valour! Compassion! as Buzz, the role originated by Nathan Lane in Terrence McNally's Tony-winning play.