After finishing up their "Next Stage Festival," featuring a Leonard Foglia helmed production of Mark (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) Hampton's Paper Doll (starring Kelly Bishop and Jonathan Hadary), N.J.'s George Street Playhouse has announced its next season. The 1999-2000 roster features a new version of the Stephen Sondheim -Richard Rodgers -Arthur Laurents' musical, Do I Hear A Waltz, as well as a production of Master Class starring Rita Moreno.
The George Street schedule is as follows:
€ Do I Hear A Waltz, a new version of the Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents musical, will play on the Mainstage Oct. 9 - Nov. 14. Artistic Director David Saint will direct. A production spokesperson told PBOL (May 25), "Arthur Laurents, David Saint and Stephen Sondheim will be completely reworking the play. Steve is talking about writing some new lyrics and adding additional lyrics for the production, but they can't go forward with decisions until Arthur [Laurents] totally rewrites the book. We're also going be brand new orchestrations, we hope."
The plot of Waltz revolves around a lonely schoolteacher, Leona Samish, who splurges her life savings on a trip to Venice. Once there, she finds plenty of love and passion ... but only between other couples. Her one friend is a young boy, who shows her the city's sights and offers a sympathetic ear for her woes. Finally, she meets the man of her dreams, an antique shop owner named Renato, with whom she falls desperately in love -- until she finds out he's married. Leona returns home with a greater understanding of love itself and fond memories of a man who taught her not to settle for less than she deserves.
The original production starred Elizabeth Allen, Carol Bruce and Sergio Franchi. Do I Hear A Waltz? is a musical adaptation of Laurents' play, The Time of the Cuckoo. Waltz marks the only collaboration between musical theatre legends Rodgers & Sondheim. Although Sondheim was nominated for a Tony for his lyrics, Waltz was the last time he wrote lyrics for someone else's music for Broadway (although he later wrote lyrics under a nom de plume to Rodgers' daughter Mary's music in an Off-Broadway revue). Sondheim had previously written lyrics for other composers, including Leonard Bernstein on West Side Story and Jule Styne on Gypsy, but he'd already had composed two musicals of his own with Anyone Can Whistle, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
€ The Last Night of Ballyhoo by Alfred Uhry will play at The George Street Playhouse, Nov. 20 - Dec. 19.
Ballyhoo debuted in the summer of 1996 in Atlanta, the play's setting, where it was commissioned for the Olympics Arts Festival. In Ballyhoo, prejudice against (and among) Southern Jews arises during plans for the German-Jewish community's annual Ballyhoo ball. Coincidentally it's also time for the original release of the film classic, Gone With The Wind, which takes place in Atlanta and deals with the Civil War and Reconstruction era.
Ballyhoo centers on first cousins Lala Levy and Sunny Freitag, thrilled as they prepare for the social event of the season with the cream of Southern Jewish society.
€ Allan Knee's Syncopation will receive its world premiere at George Street in a production starring Mark Nelson, Jan. 8 - Feb 6, 2000. After working with The George Street last year, Nelson returns for this world premiere play.
€ Terrence McNally's Master Class will star Rita Moreno in a production directed by David Saint, Feb. 12 - March 19. McNally's Class revolves around Maria Callas teaching students her lessons after her stellar career has begun to fade. Moreno starred in the movie version of "West Side Story." Other plays by McNally include Corpus Christi and The Ritz.
€ Joe Orton's classic farce, Loot, will play next on the George Street Mainstage, March 25 - April 23. Loot, one of Orton's later plays, won London's Evening Standard Award for Best Play in 1967. The comedy exposes five characters whose interactions revolve around a dead body, a coffin, and a lot of stolen money.
For tickets and information on the George Street Playhouse season call (732) 246- 7717.
-- By Sean McGrath