Theatregoer's Notebook

Theatregoer's Notebook AIMING FOR FULL HOUSES As his eight-year run on the popular ABC comedy series "Full House" came to an end last spring, John Stamos realized he'd gotten complacent--even lazy. "I'd been in a comfortable environment for a long time, and I'd stopped learning anything as an actor," says Stamos, who recently exchanged his TV character's rock-singer persona for the seersucker suits of J. Pierrepont Finch in the Broadway revival of How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying.

AIMING FOR FULL HOUSES As his eight-year run on the popular ABC comedy series "Full House" came to an end last spring, John Stamos realized he'd gotten complacent--even lazy. "I'd been in a comfortable environment for a long time, and I'd stopped learning anything as an actor," says Stamos, who recently exchanged his TV character's rock-singer persona for the seersucker suits of J. Pierrepont Finch in the Broadway revival of How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying.

"I feel like the second Darrin in 'Bewitched,'" the lively actor jokes of replacing Tony Award winner Matthew Broderick. He adds, "I hope people will realize that I'm not some punk trying to cash in on my success in television. I flew to New York to audition and put off a deal to develop my own series because I needed to remind myself why I got into this business in the first place--to be a good actor. I haven't felt this excited since I first started on 'General Hospital' more than ten years ago."

"Full House" remains tremendously popular in syndicated reruns, and Stamos doesn't mind being identified as Uncle Jesse to millions of young fans. "I went through a period of thinking that the show was light and unimportant, but in the last few years I realized how much it meant to families," he says. "My friends from the cast are doing well, and they're thrilled that I've gotten this opportunity to work on Broadway. It was time for all of us to move on."

ABOARD THE SHOW BOAT When Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey were still in diapers, Marilyn McCoo reigned as queen of pop. Now the cool-voiced veteran of the Fifth Dimension has traded in one of her signature hits, "Wedding Bell Blues" (Sing along, everyone: "Bill! I love you so, I always will"), for Kern and Hammerstein's torch song to a different "Bill" as Julie in Show Boat. Singing in the cavernous Gershwin Theatre doesn't faze this concert veteran, who calls her Broadway debut "the answer to a dream." Though McCoo's husband of 26 years, singer Billy Davis, Jr., didn't relish leaving their Los Angeles home to spend winter in New York, he knew how much the Show Boat offer meant to her.

"Who does the most compromising between us?" she calls to Davis. "I'd say it's about 50-50. We've been together 24 hours a day since we first started going together, and we enjoy that. It's much more difficult when work keeps us apart."

A generous McCoo looks at the current crop of female singers and says, "I'm amazed at the vocal technique they use today. Whitney and Mariah and Celine Dion and Anita Baker accomplish things that we didn't think were possible vocally when I started singing. The one thing I hope is that they can sustain what they're doing without damaging their voices. You have to think in terms of maintaining your voice for 10 or 15 years." Or, in McCoo's case, 26 years and counting.