Dinner at Eight, the musical, will be served up in the United Kingdom if London producer Richard Jordan has anything to say about it.
The producer is putting together plans for a winter-spring 2003 workshop-reading of the American-written show in London, and will invite provincial producers, in the hope of getting a British tour together.
Jordan, of Richard Jordan Productions, Ltd., has worked with the Bridewell and other theatres in London. The musical by librettist Julie Gilbert, lyricist Frank Evans and composer Ben Schaechter is based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber (Gilbert is Ferber's great niece).
The creative team, meanwhile, is seeing its own in independent U.S. staging, and will present a reading of the show in New York in early 2003, Evans told Playbill OnLine.
Lincoln Center Theater's upcoming revival of the 1932 play may bring more interest to the musical, which has been in development for several years. There have been Manhattan readings of it in recent seasons. Bick Goss directed the readings. In August, Dinner at Eight was sung in a Chicago reading at The Theatre Building Chicago Festival of New Musicals. The musical, like the play, is set in the Depression and focuses on the slipping fortunes of shipping magnate Oliver Jordan, whose wife, Millicent, is throwing a dinner party in the hope of securing their future. All sorts of guests are lined up, including the suicidal aging actor who is sleeping with the Jordans' daughter; a business rival and his floozy wife (she's in love with a doctor who is going back to his wife); and former stage star, Carlotta Vance, who was once Oliver's lover. The servants also figure into the plot.
The large-cast play may be best known for its 1933 Hollywood film version with Lionel Barryore, Jean Harlow, John Barrymore, Billie Burke, Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery. A 1989 cable remake starred Lauren Bacall.
— By Kenneth Jones