York's Winter Mufti Has Grass Harp, Kander's Family Affair and Noel Coward

News   York's Winter Mufti Has Grass Harp, Kander's Family Affair and Noel Coward York Theatre Company's signature series of underappreciated musicals-in-concert, Musicals in Mufti, presents The Grass Harp, John Kander's A Family Affair and the U.S. premiere of Noel Coward's operetta, Pacific 1860, Jan. 17-Feb. 2.

The three separate shows will be seen over three consecutive weekends, beginning Jan. 17-19 with a revised version of late composer Claibe Richardson and lyricist librettist Kenward Elmslie's Grass Harp, inspired by the Truman Capote novella. The musical played briefly on Broadway n 1971, was recorded for a cast album that featured Barbara Cook, and then revived by the York in 1979. In 1992, the collaborators revisited the show and rewrote sections of it, adding a new song, for a first York concert version of the fanciful Southern-set show. Richardson died of cancer Jan. 5 in Manhattan.

That 1992 version of The Grass Harp is now the licensed show, and will be heard Jan. 17-19 under the direction of York artistic director James Morgan. Jack Lee is musical director.

Before there was Kander and Ebb, there was Kander and James & William Goldman, who penned the musical comedy, A Family Affair, about the angst surrounding a big Jewish wedding. In-laws argue, the betrothed couple fret, and a wedding planner tries to bring some harmony to the proceedings.

Book is by brothers James & William, music by composer John Kander and lyrics by Kander and James Goldman. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1962 with a cast that including Eileen Heckart, Shelley Berman and Morris Carnovsky. It marked Hal Prince's directing debut. An original cast album was made, but has not yet made it to CD. Rita Gardner and Larry Kert played the young couple.

Jay Binder directs the concert revival. John Mulcahy is musical director. Performances play Jan. 24-26. Pacific 1860, presented Jan. 31-Feb. 2, re-opened London's Drury Lane Theatre after World War II and starred Mary Martin and Graham Payn. Mufti and Broadway actor Simon Jones will direct for the York. Jack Lee will musical direct. Jones will also appear in the cast.

The performance schedule for all three Musicals in Mufti is 8 PM Friday and Saturday, 2:30 Saturday and Sunday, and 7:30 PM Sunday. Audience discussions follow each matinee performance. Single tickets are $30, and are available through Tele-charge, at (212) 239-6200. (A $75 three-show subscription package is available by phone or in person at the York Theatre box office. Performances are at York's digs at the Theatre at St. Peter's at the Citicorp Center at 54th Street and Lexington Ave.

Call the York at (212) 935-5820 for more information or visit the York Theatre Company's website at www.yorktheatre.org.