Carol Channing, Robert Cuccioli and some of the stars of the Paper Mill Playhouse's current production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies will be among the many performers taking part in a May 19 gala celebrating the New Jersey theatre's 60th anniversary.
Also scheduled to perform are Kaye Ballard, Eddie Bracken, Glory Crampton, John Davidson, Darius De Haas, Davis Gaines, Philip Hernandez, George S. Irving, Robert Johanson, Judy McLane, Judith McCauley, Ann Miller, Liliane Montevecchi, Susan Powell, Kelli Rabke, Lee Roy Reams, Tony Roberts, Stephen Schwartz, Leslie Uggams and Maury Yeston. New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman will serve as Honorary Chairperson. The event will also pay tribute to Kitty Carlisle Hart and Paper Mill Executive Producer Angelo Del Rossi.
For information, call (973) 376-4343.
In other Paper Mill news, the current revival of Follies, due to run through May 31, is sold out. There has been much talk about a Broadway transfer, but no definite plans have been announced. Dougherty said that several producers have shown interest in the production.
Finishing the Paper Mill season will be The Will Rogers Follies, the 1991 Tony winner for best musical. It's a fanciful version of the life story of Rogers, one of America's most popular entertainer/comedians. Peter Stone wrote the book, Betty Comden & Adolph Green the lyrics, Cy Coleman the score. (June 10-July 26, opening June 12). Rehearsals began in May for Will Rogers Follies, directed by Mark S. Hoebee and choreographed by D. J. Salisbury. Just finished with the State Fair national tour, John Davidson plays the lead, with Ann Crumb (Anna Karenina, Aspects of Love) playing Betty Blake. The Madcap Mutts, who appeared on Broadway in the show, will repeat their canine cavorting. Also in the cast are Pamela Jordan (Ziegfeld's Favorite) and Dennis Kelly (Clem).
Opening the 1998-99 season of New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse will be the Jule Styne & Stephen Sondheim classic, Gypsy, with a star soon to be announced. The last major Gypsy revival was on Broadway with Tyne Daly.
As first reported here May 14, Betty Buckley is talking with New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse about starring in Gypsy. "There's been some discussion," Buckley told Playbill On-Line at the Tony Awards Nominees Brunch, held at Sardi's restaurant on May 13. The actress, who previously starred as Mama Rose in a 1992 production of Gypsy at the Southern Arizona Light Opera Company, is nominated for her work in last fall's Triumph of Love.
Paper Mill spokesman Dennis Dougherty confirmed the theatre had been speaking with Buckley. He added that the company was in contact with several actresses concerning the Stephen Sondheim/ Jule Styne classic, including Patti LuPone, the star of the recently shuttered Broadway production of David Mamet's The Old Neighborhood. The tentative opening date for Gypsy is Sept. 9.
Following Gypsy will be a new version (Nov.-Dec.) of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by David Levy & Leslie Eberhard (book & lyrics) with music by Phil Hall. Starring will be Richard White, Marc Kudisch (High Society), Glory Crampton (Off-Broadway's Carnival) and Judy McLane. This adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson thriller is not connected to the Frank Wildhorn currently at Broadway's Plymouth Theatre.
After that it's George S. Kaufman & Moss Hart's The Man Wh eo Dinner "with a star to be named very soon" says Paper Mill spokesperson Jim Byk (May 11). The comedy about a misery-inducing houseguest is by the same authors as Once In A Lifetime and You Can't Take It With You.
Then comes Charlotte Bronte's Wuthering Heights adapted for the stage by Paper Mill artistic director, Robert Johanson.
Then it's La Cage aux Folles, starring Lee Roy Reams as Albin. Robert Johanson directs. Harvey Fierstein wrote the book, and rumor has it composer Jerry Herman is "tinkering a bit" with La Cage for this engagement.
Announced to finish the season is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, though the current, Broadway-bound Osmond Brothers tour of the Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice musical will likely lead Paper Mill to do a different show instead.
Robert Johanson is artistic director of the Paper Mill Playhouse, the official state theatre of New Jersey. Musicals previously revived at the Millburn theatre include South Pacific, Show Boat and Gigi; newer works include Chess, Phantom, Jane Eyre and Comfortable Shoes.
For tickets and information on Paper Mill Playhouse shows, call (973) 379 3636.