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.
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 Who Came To 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.
As for this season at Paper Mill, Follies finishes its acclaimed run May 31 (with talk of a possible Broadway transfer), and 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 begin 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).
-- By David Lefkowitz