New York Theatre Workshop's (NYTW) production of Claudia Shear's Dirty Blonde opens Jan. 10 after busy preview performances to what were arguably the most generous reviews of the Off-Broadway season. The production has not extended, adhering to its originally scheduled closing date of Feb. 6. Nonetheless, talk throughout the theatre community paints a rosy future for Blonde.
Conceived by playwright Shear together with director James Lapine, Dirty Blonde is the story of two single New Yorkers who meet at Mae West's grave site. The play then goes on to trace the couple's changing relationship while simultaneously tracking West's career. Scenes jump back and forth in time and space and are cut with piano-accompanied ditties, some original and some made famous by West.
Dirty Blonde was developed in part by the Shubert Organization and several sources had the theatre-owning giant debating whether to bring the crowd-pleasing show uptown to a Broadway house. A likely home may be the Barrymore Theatre, which will open up on Feb. 20, when Putting It Together closes.
Spokespeople at the Shubert Organization and the New York Theatre Workshop declined to discuss the possibility of a Broadway move for Dirty Blonde.
Dirty Blonde's cast includes Kevin Chamberlin, playwright Claudia Shear and Bob Stillman. The play marks Shear's return to NYTW, where she triumphed in 1993 with her one-woman "tour de résumé" Blown Sideways , a 64-job search for employment. That earned her an Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination. Shear has numerous film, television and theatre credits and is widely published.
The show is helmed by James Lapine, who collaborated with Stephen Sondheim as both librettist and director on the Broadway productions of Passion, Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George. With William Finn, he collaborated on Off-Broadway's March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, which were later produced together on Broadway as Falsettos, and on A New Brain.
Set designs are by Doug Stein, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design by David Lander and sound design is by Daniel Moses Schreier.
Dirty Blonde plays at NYTW at 79 E. 4th St., between Bowery and Second Avenue. For more information, call (212) 460-5475.