The York Theatre Company, hoping that its recent Musicals in Mufti reading of The Good Companions will have a full future production, is reviving the Susan H. Schulman directed Mufti presentation 8 PM Oct. 23 for a private audience.
This industry reading of the musical comedy about show folk touring England in the 1930s — with a score by Andre Previn and Johnny Mercer — is "in preparation for a commercial or institutional Off-Broadway run," according to the York. Brian Murray and Mary Stout will repeat their Mufti performances from Oct. 5-7, as will the rest of the company.
Murray, once of Noises Off and The Play About the Baby, and Stout, memorable in the musical Jane Eyre, sang in the New York City premiere of composer Previn, librettist Ronald Harwood and lyricist Mercer's 1968 West End musical tuner, based on a novel by J.B. Priestley. The Mufti show, without costumes and props and with scripts in hand, per the Mufti mandate, marked the New York City debut of the musical comedy.
According to the York announcement, "The Good Companions sweeps us through the English countryside, along the high road of romantic adventure, with a troupe of traveling players in the early 1930's."
Director Schulman's credits include Broadway's The Secret Garden and The Sound of Music, the Ontario Stratford Festival's Fiddler on the Roof and Manhattan Theatre Club's Time and Again. "Mufti" is a term meaning casual dress — the shows are done without costumes, with script in hand. York is the nonprofit devoted exclusively to musical theatre in its intimate space at Theatre at St. Peter's Church in Manhattan.
The Good Companions cast includes Patricia Connolly, Robert Creighton, Patrick Garner, Eric Michael Gillette, Michael McGrath, Stephen Mo Hannan, Murray (the comic and dramatic actor whose chance to sing and dance died when the recent pre-Broadway Finian's Rainbow folded), Kerry O'Malley, Michele Ragusa, Jim Stanek and Stout (Jane Eyre).
Fall 2001 marks the ninth season of the acclaimed "Musicals in Mufti" concert series of Broadway's "underappreciated" musicals (seen only during a single weekend). Since 2000, the Mufti series has doubled its offerings by popular demand and added winter 2002 shows. The winter 2002 concert series will feature three works by Richard Rodgers. The fall 2001 series also included the musical, Cyrano, Oct. 12-14, and Marc Blitzstein's operatic Regina, based on Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, Oct. 19-21.
For information, call (212) 935-5820.
— By Kenneth Jones