It was supposed to be the first show of the season for Off-Broadway's Primary Stages Theatre: Milton Frederick Marcus' Holocaust drama, The Gardens of Frau Hess, staged by John Henry Davis (Papa, Mountain). A few weeks before the season began, however, word came from the Tony Origlio press office of "a decision made by the theatre" to change the schedule, and Luis Alfaro's Straight As a Line became the Primary Stages season opener instead.
But New York may not have heard the last of Frau Hess. The Herrick Theatre Foundation, headed by Rhoda Herrick, apparently has capitalization for a commercial production of the show all on its own, and they're eyeing various Off-Broadway venues for the spring, now that a number of shows are closing in early winter. "Everything is pending theatre availability," spokesperson Tony Origlio told Playbill On-Line (Dec. 27), "but they want to bring it in this season."
Among venues seemingly available are the Promenade (where The Unexpected Man closes Jan. 28), the Douglas Fairbanks (where Tallulah Hallelujah! ends Dec. 31), the Lamb's (The Countess ends Dec. 31), 45 Bleecker (where Game Show finishes its run) and the American Place (where Tabletop ends its run at the end of the year). No word yet, though, on any particular theatre or casting choices.
Set in 1944, The Gardens of Frau Hess tells of the relationship between Rudolph Hess' wife, Ilse, and the Jewish concentration camp inmate hired to tend her gardens. Billed as a "danse macabre," the story was inspired by real entries in Henrich Himmler's files.
- By David Lefkowitz