We'll never know how well George Washington, Woody Guthrie and Baron Mayer Rothschild might have gotten on had they hobnobbed at a cocktail party, nor are we likely to see what would happen to the King of Siam if Anna Leonowens had missed the boat and Auntie Mame arrived as housekeeper instead.
We can, however, visit all these people separately as part of Willows Theatre Company's just-announced 1997 season, April 7, 1997-Jan. 10, 1998 in Concord, CA. Here's the line-up:
Auntie Mame (April 7-May 3, 0p: April 11)
Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee (of Inherit The Wind fame) adapt Patrick Dennis' novel about an eccentric and whimsical lady raising her orphaned nephew through the middle years of this century. "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" is Auntie Mame's famous rallying cry.
Before you start humming the famous Jerry Herman title tune, remember that Aun tie Mame was written in 1956 -- ten years before Jerry Herman adapted the material into a Broadway musical. That staging, famously, starred Angela Lansbury. Willows' production features Carla Spindt as the woman who goes from fox-hunting in the deep South to climbing the Alps. Julian Lopez Morillas will play all of Mame's boyfriends, with Lorraine Olsen as shrinking violet, Agnes Gooch. Willows artistic director Richard Elliott directs the production, which features over 150 costumes (by Becky Broyles).
Woody Guthrie's American Song (June 2-July 6, 0p: June 6)
A regional favorite, this musical revue was adapted by Peter Glazier from songs by the great American folk singer and author of "This Land Is Your Land" and "Pastures Of Plenty."
George Washington Slept Here (July 21-Aug. 16, 0p: July 25)
A classic comedy, from the authors of the Pulitzer winning You Can't Take It With You and The Man Who Came To Dinner. The Rothschilds (Sept. 1-Oct. 5, 0p: Sept. 5)
The original Broadway cast not only starred Hal Linden, but also Chris Sarandon, Leila Martin and Jill Clayburgh. It's The Rothschilds, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's second musical on a Jewish theme (their first was Fiddler On The Roof.
Based on Frederic Morton's biography of the family that rose out of the Frankfurt ghetto to become one of the major business entities of the century, The Rothschilds features the songs "He Tossed A Coin," "Sons" and "In My Own Lifetime."
The Magnificent Ambersons (Oct. 20-Nov. 23, 0p: Oct. 24)
Another powerful family, this one adapted by James Fesuk-Geisel from Booth Tarkington's novel. The material was most famously handled by Orson Welles in a film considered a classic, even though studio interference forced Welles to shrink his epic to that of a standard feature film's running time.
The King And I (Dec. 1-Jan. 10, 1988, 0p: Dec. 5)
Faith Prince is the new Broadway Anna, but West Coasters will get their own Anna and King when Willows' homegrown production brings Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II's musical in to close the year and usher in 1998. Based on Margaret Landon's "Anna And The King Of Siam," The King And I tells of a young widow brought in as a governess to teach Western ways to an Asian King's children. Songs in the 1951 show include "Getting To Know You," "A Puzzlement," "Shall We Dance?", "I Whistle A Happy Tune" and "I Have Dreamed."
* Willows Theatre Company of Concord, CA, was founded in 1974 and is dedicated to "continuing the artform of live theatre by producing new and classic American theatre..." The organization has an annual budget of just-under $900,000, with subscribers making up 10 percent of their 30,000 annual attendance.
For tickets and information on Willows Theatre Company shows, call (510) 798-1300.
-- By David Lefkowitz