"Mufti" means "in street clothes, without the usual trappings"; the shows are done without costumes and with script in hand.
The fall Mufti season (three of six concert shows planned for 2003-04) will include Jerome Kern's Oh, Boy!, Oct. 17-19, directed by Simon Jones; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's Lucky Stiff Oct. 24-26, directed by Graciela Daniele and musical directed by David Loud; and an obscure show called Man With a Load of Mischief Oct. 31-Nov. 2, directed by Michael Montel.
Man With a Load of Mischief is a rare York exploration of an Off-Broadway show — this one from 1966 — about the romantic and comic goings-on at a wayside inn in 18th century England. York artistic director James Morgan told Playbill On-Line he's wanted to do an Off-Broadway show in his series for a long time. He knew Man from an old cast album.
Oh, Boy! is Kern's 1917 collaboration with librettist-lyricists P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton. It was one of their intimate Princess Theatre shows that attempted to wed story and song more intricately than was the habit of the day. "Till the Clouds Roll By" (with lyrics by P.G. Wodehouse) was heard in the show.
Lucky Stiff is an early collaboration by Ragtime and Once on This Island writers Ahrens (book and lyrics) and Flaherty (music). The musical comedy is based on the Michael Butterworth novel, "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo," and involves a will, lovers and a dead body. The show had a 1988 run at Playwrights Horizons, and the score is preserved on a cast album ("Times Like This" is a wistful, comic cabaret standard from the show). Daniele is the director choreographer who has worked with Ahrens and Flaherty on Once on This Island and Ragtime. Man With a Load of Mischief (based on a play called The Man With a Load of Mischief) has a libretto by Ben Tarver, lyrics by John Clifton and Ben Tarver and music by John Clifton. Morgan said the characters include an innkeeper and his wife, and a lord and lady (and servant and maid) who stop by a country inn for the night.
"It's romantic and touching," Morgan said.
Morgan said that following an abbreviated mainstage season last year (Porterphiles was the sole York mainstage show beyond Mufti; the venue was rented to other producers), his upcoming 2003-04 season (the troupe's 35th) will include three mainstage shows and six Mufti shows. The next round of Muftis play early 2004.
York Theatre Company, devoted to musical theatre, operates out of The Theatre at St. Peter's, 54th and Lexington.
For subscription information, call York's box office at (212) 935-5820; single tickets will be sold through SmartTix this season.
For more information, visit www.yorktheatre.org.