By Kenneth Jones
31 Jan 2011
The comedy about gamblers who take advantage of a greeting-card writer with a knack for picking winning ponies will play March 14-April 16 at the Beckett Theatre in the Theatre Row complex. The production will feature TACT company members Jeffrey C. Hawkins, Ron McClary, James Murtaugh, Gregory Salata and Scott Schafer, as well as guest artists Becky Baumwoll, Don Burroughs, Geoffrey Molloy, Julianna Zinkel and Kristen Vaphides.
Co-artistic director Scott Alan Evans (Incident at Vichy, The Cocktail Party) directs. Opening night is March 24.
Here's how TACT — the Equity troupe dedicated to presenting "neglected or rarely produced plays of literary merit" — bills the play: "In Three Men on a Horse, hen-pecked greeting-card writer Erwin Trowbridge has an uncanny ability for predicting the winners of horse races. For Erwin it's just a hobby, but when his extraordinary talent is discovered by a down-and-out pack of gamblers, Erwin suddenly finds himself very far from his safe suburban home in Ozone Heights. This dizzy and delightful Depression-era comedy by one of theatre's most accomplished showmen will bring a much needed lift to your Recession-wearied spirits."
The creative team includes Brett J. Banakis (sets), Martha Hally (costumes), Mary Louise Geiger (lights), Daryl Bornstein (sound), Joseph Trapanese (original music) and Lauren Madden (properties). E Sara Barnes is production stage manager.
According to TACT, Three Men on a Horse has had four Broadway productions since it debuted at the Playhouse Theatre on Jan. 30, 1935 where it remained until November 1936. It then transferred to the Fulton Theatre to complete its run of 835 performances. Directed by George Abbott, the opening night cast included Garson Kanin, Shirley Booth and Sam Levene. The first revival opened at the Forrest Theatre on Oct. 9, 1942, and ran for 28 performances. Directed by John Cecil Holm, the cast included Horace McMahon. The second revival (directed by George Abbott) opened at the Lyceum Theatre on Oct. 16, 1969, and ran for four previews and 100 performances. The cast included Sam Levene, Jack Gilford, Dorothy Loudon, Butterfly McQueen, Paul Ford, Hal Linden, and Rosemary Prinz. The third revival (also at the Lyceum Theatre) was staged by the National Actors Theatre. It began previews on March 23, 1993, opened on April 13, and closed on May 16 after 24 previews and 39 performances. Directed by John Tillinger, the cast included Tony Randall, Jack Klugman, Jerry Stiller, Ellen Greene and Julie Hagerty. In the spring of 1987, the play was presented at the Royal National Theatre and — because it was the first time it was produced in London — was eligible for nomination for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, which it won. A 1936 film adaptation was produced and directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starred Frank McHugh, Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee and Sam Levene. TACT presented a concert performance of Three Men on a Horse in 1998 at its first home, The New York Historical Society.
Abbott is a major name in modern American theatre. His career spanned more than 70 years. He was brought in by the producers of Three Men on a Horse to add rewrites and direct John Cecil Holm's script. He first began his career as an actor on Broadway before his career as a director, writer and producer in both theatre and film. He would work on more than 100 Broadway productions in his lifetime. Some of Abbott's best-known works as a writer include The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees and The Boys from Syracuse. Abbott (or "Mr. Abbott," as he was called) was the recipient of six Tony awards, a Pulitzer Prize and a Drama Desk Award. He worked in the theatre until his death in 1995 at the age of 107.
Three Men on a Horse will have the following performance schedule: Monday, Wednesday-Friday at 7:30 PM; Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM; Sunday at 3 PM.
Theatre Row's Beckett Theatre is located at 410 W. 42nd Street between 9th & 10th Avenues.
Tickets are $36.25-$56.25 and are available 24/7 through Telecharge.com and (212) 239-6200 or at the Theatre Row box office between noon and 8 PM daily.
For more information about TACT, visit www.tactnyc.org.