Countdown to Curtain:
Talking with SUSAN BIRKENHEAD, Lyricist
Winner of a Tony nomination and Drama Desk award for her work on Jelly's Last Jam, lyricist Susan Birkenhead will always have an allegiance to Jam's director, George C. Wolfe. For good luck, she wears a pin given to her by Wolfe and notes that she and he hope to collaborate on another piece in the near future. "If he calls, I come running!" she told Playbill On-Line.
At the moment, though, Birkenhead is running to and from the Royale Theatre, where her labor of love, Triumph Of Love, opens Sept. 23. This isn't the first time Birkenhead has had to adapt the work of a well known writer. Along with other collaborators, she was nominated for a Tony in helping to adapt Studs Terkel's Working, and she nabbed an Outer Critics Circle Award for What About Luv?, based on Murray Schisgal's Luv!. If Terkel and Schisgal aren't impressive enough, look at the pedigree on her upcoming projects:
She's doing extra lyrics for the Broadway-bound High Society ("My God, I'm collaborating with Cole Porter!", Birkenhead laughs), and she's also working on a musical adaptation of the Boris Pasternak novel (and David Lean film), Dr. Zhivago. High Society, with Daniel McDonald and Melissa Errico, completed a successful San Francisco try out, Oct. 12.
What, you say Birkenhead's still not busy enough? Well, she's also collaborating with composer Charles Strouse and Evan Hunter (novelist of the Ed McBain mystery series) on The Night They Raided Minsky's, to be directed by Mike Ockrent. "It's a real `guy' thing," said Birkenhead (Oct. 6). "I'm having the best time with these guys. It's so completely different from these other worlds. It's a funny, funny book."
Said Birkenhead, "The producer, Timothy Childs, wanted to have a reading of it in October, but now it depends on everybody's schedule. Mike is busy all the time, Charles always has projects in the pipeline. They're pressing all the time." A New York reading is planned for December.
That is, unless George C. Wolfe phones. . .