As many Broadway and Off-Broadway shows prepare to drop off the map in early January, Off-Broadway's Old Wicked Songs gets older but no weaker. On Dec. 31, the show will celebrate its 150th performance at the Promenade Theatre, a 6-month run which follows its initial, try-out production at Playhouse 91 -- a co-production of the Barrow Group and Jewish Repertory Theatre.
After the 8 PM, New Year's Eve performance, the Old Wicked audience will be invited to join the actors in a toast to 1997.
Hal Robinson and Justin Kirk currently star in the two-hander, which recently opened in London with Bob Hoskins and James Callis. Seth Barris directs here, Elijah Moshinsky there.
Old Wicked Songs tells the story of Stephen Hoffman (Kirk), an arrogant, American concert pianist, whose artistic crisis has caused him to quit his performance career. He travels to Vienna to study with a passionate, elderly professor (Robinson). Through the exploration of "Dichterliebe," they rediscover their love of music.
This epiphany is achieved in the context of Austro-German history. In visiting the site of a Nazi death camp, Hoffman develops an appreciation of the holocaust's effects on the lives of his professor's generation. The action takes place in 1986, while Austrian President Kurt Waldheim is seeking reelection. Revelations regarding Waldheim's Nazi past add immediacy to this exploration of identity. The playwright has written comedy for TV's "The New Carol Burnett Show," and toiled as a script editor for Michael Douglas' production company at Columbia Pictures. A previous play, Child Child, won The Preston Jones New Play Award in its production at Houston's Chocolate Bayou Theatre.
In New York, Marans' work has included books and lyrics for two musicals, The Leaves Will Be Off the Trees and Green. Both were commissioned by The New York Shakespeare Festival and latter produced at the 45th Street Theater. Currently, Marans is writing the book and lyrics for Another Year, a musical about a financial shark who abandons Wall Street to teach in an urban high school.
Old Wicked Songs, which is readying translations for productions in Japan, Poland, South Africa and Israel, is produced by Jeffrey Ash and Daryl Roth. The Promenade Theatre is located at 2162 Broadway at 76th Street. Tickets are available at the box office or by calling (212) 580 1313.