The York Theatre Company's January 2002 "Musicals in Mufti" musicals-in-concert series will focus on the late composer Richard Rodgers, including a rare revival of his 1967 TV musical, "Androcles and the Lion," in his centennial year.
The intimate, dressed-down readings have become a signature of the York, which is devoted to producing new musicals and reviving old ones at its Manhattan digs in The Theatre at St. Peter's in the Citicorp building at Lexington and 54th.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's backstage musical comedy, Me and Juliet, a flop in 1953, gets a concert reading Jan. 11-13. The show gave birth to one hit, "No Other Love," the theme of which is heard in Rodgers' "Victory at Sea" TV documentary score.
The stage premiere of the onetime 1967 NBC special, "Androcles and the Lion," plays Jan. 18-20. George Bernard Shaw's play is the inspiration for Peter Stone's book and Rodgers' music and lyrics. As a lyricist writing to his own music, Rodgers also penned new songs for the film, "The Sound of Music," and the songs for Broadway's No Strings. Joe Layton staged the TV version of "Androcles and the Lion." Rodgers devotes exactly three sentences to the project in his autobiography, "Musical Stages." The show "didn't come off well," he wrote.
The 1942 Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart musical comedy, By Jupiter, with a score that includes "Nobody's Heart," "Ev'rything I've Got" and "Wait Till You See Her," is the third Rodgers event, Jan. 25-27. It was the last show Rodgers and Hart wrote together (although they collaborated on a revival of A Connecticut Yankee). "Mufti" is a term meaning casual dress — the shows are done without costumes, with script in hand.
The fall 2001 Mufti series includes the New York premiere of composer Andre Previn, librettist Ronald Harwood and lyricist Johnny Mercer's The Good Companions, the 1968 West End tuner based on a novel by J.B. Priestley, Oct. 5-7 (under the direction of Susan H. Schulman); lyricist-librettist Anthony Burgess and composer Michael J. Lewis' 1973 Broadway tuner, Cyrano, based on the classic Cyrano de Bergerac, Oct. 12-14 (directed by Michael Montel), and Marc Blitzstein's 1949 operatic adaptation of The Little Foxes, Regina, Oct. 19-21 (directed by Harold Scott and musical directed by Jack Lee).
— By Kenneth Jones