Some of the great senior stars of stage and screen have said "Yes" to performing in York Theatre Company's freshly reworked concert reading of John Kander and Fred Ebb's 70, Girls, 70, Jan. 28-30 in New York City.
The short-lived 1971 tuner about seniors in a retirement building in Manhattan, and a comic criminal caper, is a cult favorite for its upbeat, heartfelt songs "Home," "Yes" and "Go Visit Your Grandmother."
Expected in the York Musicals in Mufti staging (using a newly revised script since the Broadway and London staging) are Jane Powell (of M-G-M's "Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers") as Ida, Charlotte Raye (Li'l Abner, TV's "Diff'rent Strokes") as Melba, Jane Connell (Mame, Dear World) as Eunice, George S. Irving (On Your Toes) as Walter, Helen Gallagher (Sweet Charity, TV's "Ryan's Hope") as Gert, Mimi Hines (post-Streisand Funny Girl) as Fritzi, Marilyn Cooper (West Side Story, Woman of the Year, I Can Get It for You Wholesale) as Sadie, Robert Fitch (the original Rooster in Annie) as Harry, Don Percassi (the original Al in A Chorus Line) as Joe, Danny Carroll as Pete, Janet Aycock as Lorraine, and Christopher Morgan as Eddie.
The staging, directed by Michael Leeds, will use a revised book by David Thompson (Steel Pier) and Norman L. Martin. The original credits read, "book by Fred Ebb and Norman L. Martin, adaptation by Joe Masteroff." The piece is based on the 1958 British comedy, Breath of Spring.
Not heard in this version is the duet, "You and I," but "I Can't Do That Anymore" from the London production has been added. The show is at turns presentational and quirky, in a quasi-vaudeville style (with characters saying, "Hit it, Lorraine," to an aged pianist) that would later be improved upon by Kander and Ebb in the "musical vaudeville" Chicago (1975). Mildred Natwick was the original's above-the-title star.
York's winter Musicals in Mufti series began Jan. 14-16 with Wright and Forrest's Kean and continued Jan. 21-23 with Wish You Were Here.
The series, with no costumes or sets and with script in hand, is meant to explore underappreciated shows that for one reason or another had a limited original run or have infrequent revivals.
"Mufti" is a term meaning civilian garb.
Tickets are $25. York Theatre plays in The Theatre at St. Peter's Church, Lexington Avenue and 54th Street, in Manhattan. Call (212) 239-6200 for information.
-- By Kenneth Jones