Ionescopade, taken from the works of Ionesco, features music and lyrics by Mildred Kayden and was originally conceived by Robert Allan Ackerman. The production began previews Jan. 23 at the York's Theatre at Saint Peter’s.
The cast comprises Nancy Anderson (Kiss Me, Kate), Paul Binotto (Enter Laughing, The Musical), Samuel Cohen (Oh, Calcutta!), David Edwards (The Fantasticks), Leo Ash Evens (West Side Story, London), Susan J. Jacks (Forbidden Broadway) and Tina Stafford (I Married Wyatt Earp).
Bill Castellino (Jolson, Dr. Radio, Grumpy Old Men the Musical) directs and choreographs the limited engagement with music direction by Christopher McGovern, scenic design by James Morgan, costume design by Nicole Wee and lighting design by Mary Jo Dondlinger.
Ionesco is famous for his plays The Bald Soprano, Rhinoceros, The Chairs and Exit the King (which recently enjoyed a hit revival on Broadway). "Plays, playlets, and poetry by this master of the Absurd transport us into a zany musical vaudeville, where humor is the antidote to the world’s realities," according to the York.
Performances continue through Feb. 26. Director Castellino shared his connection to the work with Playbill.com. "I first became involved with Ionescopade when I was asked to direct it in L.A. at the Odyssey Theatre in 1981," he said. "We had an amazing time realizing this provocative and wacky material. The show was performed in two acts with nine actors, won several awards, and ran for almost a year. I had the opportunity to direct another version of the project in Washington, DC, at the Smithsonian in 1995. We added several short plays, cut several of the musical numbers and ran it in one act. It had a cast of seven including Lilianne Montevecchi, Willy Falk, Jennifer Allen, and Ron Holgate. With a smaller cast and adjusted program, the show remained surreal and funny — but the experience changed because of the way one vaudeville number impacted the next.
"At the York, we have created yet another program...swapping out some of the plays and monologues and adjusting the running order. Again, though substantially the same content, the overall impact has changed. Somehow this material reflects the world — the political and social order and the concept of survival — differently every time it is presented. It is amazing to work on a piece that cannily absorbs the reality of the time in which it exists. Of course, what is absurd depends on the time and world in which you live."
Tickets are $67.50 and are available online at www.yorktheatre.org, by calling (212) 935-5820 or in person at the box office at the York Theatre at Saint Peter’s (enter on 54th Street, just east of Lexington).