The York Theatre Company's 31st season will begin Nov. 23 with the world premiere of a musical docudrama about Al Jolson, Jolson & Co., by Stephen Mo Hanan and Jay Berkow, directed by Berkow.
York artistic director James Morgan told Playbill On-Line Oct. 1 that the third show of the 1999-2000 mainstage season, beyond the previously announced Taking a Chance on Love, would be Postcards on Parade.
The two-act Jolson tuner, officially opening Dec. 9 and continuing to Jan. 2, 2000, documents the life of the legendary stage, film and radio star, arguably the most influential performer of the 20th century. Jolson's signature hits, "Rock a Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody," "You Made Me Love You," "California Here I Come," "Swanee," "Sonny Boy," "April Showers," "Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye," and more, are part of the show.
Hanan, who has played Captain Hook opposite Cathy Rigby, will play Jolson. Two other performers, a man and woman yet to be cast, will play the loves and associates in his life, from Ruby Keeler to Henny Youngman to Harry Cohn to Mae West.
York artistic director James Morgan told Playbill On-Line that he saw a tape of Hanan performing in a one-man Jolson show, directed by Berkow, and was excited by the work. "I was so impressed," Morgan said. "I thought his performance was incredible, it was astounding."
Berkow and Hanan began working on their own Jolson play, and Morgan was interested: "To have it playing as the century changes is really something because he's certainly one of the most important entertainers of the 20th century..."
Morgan also pointed out that Jolson & Co., is the first Jolson musical of several (including the touring Jolson and the in-development Jazz Singer) to make it to a New York City venue.
The frame of the new show is a broadcast interview Jolson gave with Barry Gray at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1949. His life is explored in flashbacks.
The November preview period bumps the previously-announced John Latouche revue, Taking a Chance on Love, to the Feb. 15-March 26, 2000, slot.
The third mainstage show will be Postcards on Parade, with book and lyrics by Kenward Elmslie ("The Grass Harp") and music by Steven Taylor. Performances are April 11-May 28, 2000.
It's described as "an absurdly funny love story which takes a phantasmagoric look at the quirky world of postcards and postcard collectors."
The York Theatre Company is New York City's major small-venue showcase for intimate musicals (Little by Little, After the Fair). In addition to its mainstage season, which offers three shows, York also produces a popular series of "underappreciated" old musicals in concert form under the title "Musicals in Mufti."
Mufti presents Beggar's Holiday by John Latouche and Duke Ellington Oct. 1-3. A new slate is expected for January-February.
The York Theatre Company performs in the Theatre at St. Peter's Church, Citicorp Center, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street. Call (212) 935-5824 for information.
Single tickets for Jolson & Co., go on sale Nov. 1.
Call (212) 239-6200 for tickets.
-- By Kenneth Jones