Well, here comes 1998, and with it, of course, the usual number of New Year's Resolutions. Shall I make that annual promise that I'll lose 60 pounds? Oh, what's the use? No -- this year is going to be different. For instead of making my own futile New Year's resolutions, I'm going to make resolutions for OTHER people, and see if they can measure up.
Like I wish that my friends would resolve not to ask me for Lion King house seats. Or even Chicago house seats, which, after all this time, are still murder to get for this murderous musical.
I'd like to see some producer(s) resolve to bring us revivals of Dear Ruth (what a charming comedy!), Inner City (a much underrated musical), and Joan (Al Carmines' best show). How about Faith Prince in Bells Are Ringing? Dana Ivey in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie? Or maybe that one should star Jane Alexander, whom we're all ready to welcome back from her government job.
As for "Encores!," might Kathleen Marshall resolve to give us The Grass Harp, Passion Flower Hotel, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?
Some recording company should resolve to give us complete recordings of Allegro and Golden Apple. For that matter, won't anyone record "And," the song hat was inexplicably omitted from the Chorus Line cast album? While we're at it, let's have the Whoop-Up CD re-released, so that a new generation of the stagestruck can have a good laugh. Let's see that promise to re-release Promises, Promises on CD come true, too. Promises composer Burt Bacharach should resolve to come out of his 29-year non-theatrical malaise and write us at least one more wonderful show. Ditto Jerry Herman, now away nearly 15 years, but who showed us this year and last via Mrs. Santa Claus that he still has it.
Marvin Hamlisch should finish the musical version of Cinema Paradiso that he started. Someone should resolve to write a musical version of The Clock, that marvelous Judy Garland movie in which she didn't sing a note. And Tim Rice should resolve to write perfect rhymes.
Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince should resolve to work together again. Sondheim, meanwhile, should finish Wise Guys, which is a tad overdue now, wouldn't you say?
Liza Minnelli should sign for a show, and then actually do the performances.
Faye Dunaway, who bought the screen rights to Master Class for herself, should resign herself to the fact that nobody can do it as well as Zoe Caldwell could, and give her the part.
Bravo should resolve to tape Luis Bravo's Forever Tango. TV networks should resolve to re-run their taped versions of Bleacher Bums, Steambath, and, of course, An Evening Primrose. Add to those The Fourposter that Jackie Cooper and Tammy Grimes did so deliciously in the '60s, and the Cinderella that Julie Andrews did in the '50s. Never mind that its special effects don't seem so special today, for Miss Andrews certainly still is. And while we're on Cinderella, Brandy and Whitney Houston's recording companies should resolve to get it together so that we can have a soundtrack from what TV Guide wisely called the Best Special of 1997.
Let's see the Tony committee resolve, as I suggested some weeks back, to give William Daniels a retroactive Best Musical Actor award that he should have won for 1776 in 1969, but was denied because of a billing technicality. Let's have the next actor (or actress) to star as Pseudolus in the next Broadway revival of Forum to do the (excellent) script as written, for it IS awfully good, you know. As for the next actor to play Jekyll and Hyde, whenever Robert Cuccioli decides to take his leave, let the producers resolve to cast Christopher Innvar.
The U.S. Post Office should resolve to release another series of stamps celebrating Broadway musicals, the way it did with My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Porgy and Bess, and Show Boat a few years back. May I cast my three electoral votes for Annie, Get Your Gun, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music.
Other corporations should resolve to follow Hallmark's lead and bankroll The Sound of Music revival. For example, Domino, which produces sugar, could produce Sugar. But please -- can't The Sound of Music management resolve to change its logo? The idea of a stained glass window isn't bad, but the design should be more detailed and ornate.
Let someone resolve to paint over that sign on Ninth and 43rd trumpeting Circle-in-the-Square's great $10 seat deal, for it's too painful to see it. And let someone resolve to take over Circle-in-the-Square's uptown theater. We're always hearing how Broadway needs a 500-seater in the midtown theater district. Well here's one right under our noses (and under the Gershwin).
Now that Jerry Seinfeld has announced that he'll pull the plug on his already legendary TV series, that frees Jason Alexander to star in that Broadway musical he always said he'd do after the series concluded. There was talk that he'd play Marty, in a musical version of the Paddy Chayefsky classic. But who'd write it for him? There'd been noise that such composers as Frank Wildhorn and Charles Strouse would be adapting the property -- joining the list of many who have tried, and haven't succeeded because prying the rights from Chayefsky's widow. Tony-winning orchestrator Jonathan Tunick did one. But the most indefatigable has been Jeff Harris, who's best known for writing a peck of songs for Maureen McGovern. How well I remember that day when he made his Marty presentation at the Dramatists Guild, which Sondheim attended along with about 50 budding musical theater writers. Afterwards, when the master was asked to give his opinion, he said that one song (in which Marty and his best pal ruminated If I Had a Girl) was -- and I quote -- "one of the best songs I've ever heard." Oh, you should have heard the intakes of breath from every one of the writers in attendance, many of whom had already performed their work for Sondheim, and hadn't remotely heard the same assessment.
So, Mr. Alexander, do resolve to at least take a look at Mr. Harris' Marty. And, oh, would I love to be a fly on the wall should a director during rehearsals ever say to Harris, "Jeff, that 'If I Had a Girl' song just has to go."
Wish that William Goldman would resolve to write a new examination of "The Season."
Of course, I wish that someone would take back the Hellinger for us.
And I will make one New Year's Resolution: That I will try to age as gracefully and fearlessly as Cherry Jones does in Pride's Crossing. Isn't it nice that the producers have resolved to keep Tina Howe's fine play with Jones' extraordinary performance with us well into the new year?
-- Peter Filichia is the New Jersey theater critic for the Star-Ledger
You can e-mail him at Pfilichia@aol.com