Suddenly, it's Kander and Ebb coming and going.
Not only is there talk of transporting the recent "Encores!" revival of their 1976 Chicago intact to Broadway, there are a couple of readings/workshops of brand-new shows that are in the works ready to take off this summer.
The producing Weisslers, Barry and Fran, are making sounds that they want to install the "Encores!" opus as is, into the Martin Beck Theatre, IF Moon Over Buffalo heads into the sunset at the end of June. This concert rendering of Chicago, starring Ann Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth, James Naughton and Joel Grey, was enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike. Some of the latter even wrote that this scaled-down edition was superior to the original.
On June 17, director Jerry Zaks will do a staged New York reading of Kander and Ebb's musicalization of The Skin of Our Teeth, as adapted by Joseph (Fiddler on the Roof) Stein from the Thornton Wilder play of 1942. The musical remaking will topline a trio of Tony-winners in roles originated by Tallulah Bankhead, Fredric March and Florence Eldridge--namely, Bernadette Peters, James Naughton and Debra Monk. The other roles are now in the process of being cast.
Immediately after the reading, Monk will join Karen Ziemba in an eight-week New York workshop of another new Kander and Ebb show, titled Steel Pier, a '30s period-piece about marathon dancing in Atlantic City. Ebb told a post-show "Encores!" audience recently that he had tried to secure the musical rights to Horace McCoy's famed novel on the subject, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? -- and couldn't, forcing them to do an original musical. Scott Ellis, who staged the Kander and Ebb revue And the World Goes 'Round, will be directing this workshop. All that, and there's talk that the long-delayed movie version of Chicago is on its way into production for Miramax. Producers Robert Fryer and Martin Richards okayed a Larry Gelbart script which is to be directed by Herb Ross.