Brian Murray, once of Noises Off and The Play About the Baby, and Mary Stout, memorable in the musical Jane Eyre, will sing in the New York City premiere of composer Andre Previn, librettist Ronald Harwood and lyricist Johnny Mercer's The Good Companions, a 1968 West End tuner based on a novel by J.B. Priestley, Oct. 5-7.
Susan H. Schulman (The Secret Garden, The Sound of Music) directs the York Theatre Company's staged concert reading of the obscure 1930s-set show as part of the fall 2001 Musicals in Mufti series. "Mufti" is a term meaning casual dress — the shows are done without costumes, with script in hand. York is the nonprofit devoted exclusively to musical theatre in its intimate space at Theatre at St. Peter's Church in Manhattan.
The Good Companions cast includes Patricia Connolly, Robert Creighton, Patrick Garner, Eric Michael Gillette, Michael McGrath, John Christopher Jones, Murray (the comic and dramatic actor whose chance to sing and dance died when the pre-Broadway Finian's Rainbow folded), Kerry O'Malley, Michele Ragusa, Jim Stanek and Stout (Jane Eyre).
According to the York announcement, "The Good Companions sweeps us through the English countryside, along the high road of romantic adventure, with a troupe of traveling players in the early 1930's."
Fall 2001 marks the ninth season of the acclaimed "Musicals in Mufti" concert series of Broadway's "underappreciated" musicals (seen only during a single weekend). Since 2000, the Mufti series has doubled its offerings by popular demand and added winter 2002 shows. The winter 2002 Concert series will feature three works by Richard Rodgers. The fall 2001 series also includes the musical, Cyrano, Oct. 12-14, and Marc Blitzstein's operatic, Regina, based on Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, Oct. 19-21. All shows run five performances, 8 PM Friday, 2:30 PM and 8 PM Saturday, and 2:30 PM and 7:30 PM Sunday at the York Theatre at St. Peter's in the Citigroup Center, 619 Lexington Ave. at 54th Street in Manhattan. Audience discussions follow all matinee performances. For tickets call, (212) 239-6200 or York's box office at (212) 935-5820.
The York Theatre Company's January 2002 "Musicals in Mufti" musicals-in-concert series will focus on the late composer Richard Rodgers, including a rare revival of his 1967 TV musical, "Androcles and the Lion," in his centennial year.
The intimate, dressed-down readings have become a signature of the York, which is devoted to producing new musicals and reviving old ones at its Manhattan digs. Rodgers and Hammerstein's backstage musical comedy, Me and Juliet, a flop in 1953, gets a concert reading Jan. 11-13. The show gave birth to one hit, "No Other Love," the theme of which is heard in Rodgers' "Victory at Sea" TV documentary score.
— By Kenneth Jones