Belles Are Ringing: Obscure Luce Comedy, Kiss the Boys Goodbye, Gets June 27 Reading in NYC

News   Belles Are Ringing: Obscure Luce Comedy, Kiss the Boys Goodbye, Gets June 27 Reading in NYC
A reading of Clare Booth Luce's obscure Broadway comedy, Kiss the Boys Goodbye, will be directed by Robert Armin in New York City June 27.

The exploration of the script, which the directed said was the first step toward a hoped-for major revival, will feature Michael Rupert, Donna Lynne Champlin, Nicole Ruth Snelson, Ian August, Danny Rothman, A. Gregory Harris, Bobbi Owens, Tom Riis Farrell, Lawrence Kleiber, Richard Springle, Todd Thurston and Missy Matherne.

The play was inspired by the search for stars for the film version of "Gone With the Wind." Armin got permission from the Clare Boothe Luce Foundation to direct a reading of the play.

"Luce's play takes a comic look at a cross-section of New York City theatrical and literary characters and their culture shock when confronted by the quintessential Southern belle," Armin said in a statement. "In 1992, I discovered a hardbound copy of a rare Broadway comedy by Clare Boothe Luce (the author of The Women) called Kiss the Boys Goodbye, which has not been performed in New York (or just about anywhere) since its original 1938 production."

Acording to notes provided by the director, Kiss the Boys Goodbye premiered at the Henry Miller Theatre on Sept. 28, 1938, featuring John Alexander, Ollie Burgoyne, Helen Claire, Wyman Holmes, Sheldon Leonard, Lex Lindsay, Hugh Marlowe, Millard Mitchell, Edwin Nicander, Philip Ober, Benay Venuta, Carmel White and Frank Wilson. It was directed by Antoinette Perry and produced by Brock Pemberton.

In the play, according to Armin's announcement on, "it's the summer of 1938, and the whole country is talking about the casting event of the decade — who will be hired to portray Velvet O'Toole, the epitome of Southern aristocracy and charm, in the movie version of the smash hit Civil War novel, 'Kiss the Boys Goodbye?' Lloyd Lloyd, a hot young Hollywood director, is onboard a train heading for New York with his big discovery (Cindy Lou Bethany, the daughter of a Georgia congressman) secretly stashed in the next compartment. Rumor has it that she's a shoe-in for the role of Velvet -- once she passes muster with the film's producer, Herbert Z. Harner. But Lloyd has other plans. Cindy Lou is a saccharine sweet Southern Belle, whose charms are thick enough to slice with a machete. Lloyd hopes that once Harner gets a look at a real Southern belle, he'll hire Brooklyn-born Myra Stanhope, the studio's slightly tarnished star attraction, whom Harner has declared box office poison, and with whom Lloyd is having an affair. "Cindy Lou's unveiling is to take place at the Westport, Connecticut, home of Horace and Leslie Rand. Rand, editor of the sophisticated humor magazine Manhattan Man, has planned an amusing little weekend. In addition to Harner, Lloyd and Cindy Lou, he and his wife, Leslie, have invited three other guests: Madison Breed, a left-wing newspaper columnist; B.J. Wickfield, Breed and Rand's stuffy, conservative publisher; and 'Top' Rumson, Leslie's handsome, but naive, polo-playing cousin. Tagging along with Rumson is none other than Myra Stanhope, tipped off by Lloyd, and hoping to use this weekend to secure the role of Velvet O'Toole for herself. At any cost."

Robert Armin collaborated with novelist Budd Schulberg and composer lyricist Ervin Drake on a revised version of their 1964 musical, What Makes Sammy Run? He wrote and directed the New York productions of Letters From The Inside, based on the novel by Australian writer John Marsden, and Stalking the Nightmare, a stage adaptation of several short stories by fantasist Harlan Ellison. In May 2002, he directed a staged reading of his "new" Vernon Duke musical, Madly in Love, at The York Theatre Company, and in June directed The Broadway Musicals of 1964 at New York City's Town Hall. He also conceived and directed the world premiere of Side By Side By Seymour Glick, a musical revue featuring the comedy songs of Steve Allen, and the 1996 New York City revival of Say, Darling, the 1958 comedy with songs by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne. Other New York City directing credits include revivals of The Male Animal and My Sister Eileen and the world premieres of Soul Survivors, The Computerization of Byron Keats, Love Is Like That, A Magic Place in a New Time, A Mind is a Terrible Thing To Lose and 'S Wonderful - The Songs of Ira Gershwin.

The Kiss the Boys Goodbye reading is 7 PM June 27 at the West End Theatre at the Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew, 263 W. 86th Street, in Manhattan. Admission is free but seating is limited. For reservations, write to

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