FIDDLER ON THE HOOF: Where better than the Cowgirl Hall of Fame for Cowgirls to meet the press? The wishful thinking that went into that petite preview paid off, too, when the show came out of the chute at the Minetta Lane. The eclectic first-night crowd included violinist Itzhak Perlman (who hugely enjoyed the classical/country connections of the piece) and Tony winner Debra Monk, who took time off from her Hugh Grant film to cheer on Mary Murfitt, her old Oil City Symphony cohort-turned-composer and chief fiddler for Cowgirls. The evening's honored guest (like, The Diva had her own trailer outside the Nacho Mama's party-site) was Helen the Holstein, who, according to publicist Sam Rudy, did not have "mad cow" disease. "I had her tested," he said, postscripting quickly, "but she is mad about the show." Ba-da-bum. MY FELLOW AMERICANS: Off-Broadway's Manhattan Class Company, run by Robert LuPone and Bernard Telsey, took a big step upto the Westside Theatre on W. 43rd, where it transplanted Nixon's Nixon; Gerry Bamman's Nixon and Steve Mellor's Kissinger went with it. Highlight of the re-opening night bash at Gallagher's: the out-loud, table-top reading of Vincent Canby's four-star salute in The New York Times. Author Russell Lees was beet-red with bliss. (A tad green-with-envy, perhaps, was the HBO Nixon present, Ron Silver.) Despite three other raves and a Drama Desk nomination for Bamman, the play ended its run in New York and is contemplating a gig in Washington, where they're only too familiar with this Local Boy Makes Bad story. Bamman doesn't expect he and Mellor will reprise their performances in L.A.: "They'll probably recast it out there with Demi Moore and Sharon Stone."
ENCORES! SCORES: Chicago, choreographed and starring Fosse disciple Ann Reinking, ended the Encores! season at City Center with a bang, literally and figuratively. It proved to be the biggest grosser of the concert revival series, which, in exactly three dozen performances over three years, has raked in more than a million bucks. Not a few local critics hailed this edition superior to the Broadway original of 20 years agoand, yes, Reinking confirms that there has been talk of transferring the show, with cast intact (Bebe Neuwirth, James Naughton, Marcia Lewis, D. Sabella and Joel Grey), to a long-running venue, like Broadway. As directed by the artistic head of these Encores! (Walter Bobbie), this concert reading could have effortlessly passed for a bona fide Broadway production.