By Andrew Gans
and Robert Simonson
18 Mar 2002
One Mo' Time, the Vernel Bagneris musical at the Longacre Theatre, will play its final performance 3 PM March 24, the producers announced March 18.
The New Orleans-flavored jazz musical revue, which originally ran Off-Broadway in 1979, opened March 6 to mixed reviews — including positive notices from the Daily News, USA Today, Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly and negative remarks from The New York Times and Variety. Ticket sales have been sluggish since then. One Mo' Time will have had 16 previews and 21 regular performances by its closing day.
The show, conceived, written and directed by Bagneris, cakewalked from a summer 2001 staging at Williamstown Theatre Festival to the Longacre Theatre, where it began previews on Feb. 21.
The musical stars Bagneris, stepping and singing in the enterprise that recreates one sultry night in 1926 at the Lyric Theatre in New Orleans, where greats like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey wailed their sweet and blue music. In the show, Big Bertha's touring vaudeville song-and-dance act primps and bickers between numbers on stage. The company features Rosalind Brown (Broadway's Footloose), B.J. Crosby (Smokey Joe's Cafe), Wally Dunn (Broadway's Master Class), Roz Ryan (Chicago, TV's "Amen") and Bagneris as Papa Du, all recreating their summer work.
The Williamstown Theatre Festival is presenting the Broadway production.
One Mo' Time was the 2001 Williamstown Theatre Festival's mainstage season opener. It played June 20-July 1. The cast sang and danced Charlestons, rags, cakewalks and other characteristic numbers of the time. Theatregoers were also treated to a sampling of Bagneris' signature limber limbed dancing.
The Williamstown engagement had its audiences clapping and yelling for more each night as the cast sang "there'll be a hot time in the old town tonight" — an unusual reaction for a subscription base more used to the likes of Hedda Gabler and The Price. Songs in the show include "Down in Honky Tonk Town" and "Everybody Loves My Baby," among others, played by The New Orleans Blues Serenaders, musical-directed by Orange Kellin.
Designers are Campbell Baird (set), Toni-Leslie James (costumes), John McKernon (lighting) and Kurt Kullenberger (sound). Eddie D. Robinson choreographs.
One Mo' Time tickets range $30-$75. The Longacre is at 220 W. 48th Street in Manhattan. For information, call (212) 239-6200.