It was the show that gave Bonnie Franklin a career, Mary Orr's story a second life, and Lauren Bacall a Best Actress Tony.
Now, Applause, the 1970 Tony Award-winning musical, is getting a long awaited revival at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J. Before embarking on a 22-week Broadway-bound U.S. tour.
Starring in Applause is Stefanie Powers, who took some lumps early in previews from iffy word-of-mouth about her ability to carry the show.
"Stefanie has worked like crazy from day one," affirms Paper Mill general manager Geoff Cohen. "She looks great, and she sells the audience. I've had people call and say, `Well, we know her from TV, but she has to prove herself on this one.' Then they'll call back after seeing the show and say, `Wow, did she prove it.'"
Cohen adds that Powers' Channing stops the show with the act one closer, "Welcome To The Theatre." Based on the film "All About Eve," Applause has a book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, music by Charles Strouse, and lyrics by Lee Adams. All four are creatively involved in the new production.
Though not updated (actually they've moved the time period from the late 1960's to 1971-2), this Applause does boast four new songs, including "Marco," "I Don't Want To Grow Old," and "She Killed Them," which will be sung by Darrell Carey as Duane. (The original Duane was Lee Roy Reams.)
"The first read-through was delayed 45 minutes," recalled Geoff Cohen, "because Charles [Strouse] and Lee [Adams] had written a brand new song. We needed to find a piano, so we did, and they sat down and played it themselves, working just from their notes."
Gene Saks directs this revival, which boasts choreography by Ann Reinking. Other stars of the revival are Kate Jennings-Grant as Eve, John Dossett as Bill, and Nick Wyman as Howard the producer. The four creators will attend opening night, as will Mary Orr, who wrote the story that started it all.
"Orr waited fifteen years to see her story turned into a film," said Cohen, "and then another 15 years convincing people it could be a musical."
After the production closes in Millburn Oct. 19, Applause moves to Tampa, FL for an opening Oct. 22 -- twenty-two being an auspicious number because Tampa begins a 22-week tour. Hopes are high that the show, with all-new orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin, is scheduled to arrive on Broadway at a theatre TBA sometime in spring 1997.
For tickets and information on Applause, call the Paper Mill Playhouse at (201) 379-3636.
For the rest of the Paper Mill Season Schedule, check Theatre News.
-- By David Lefkowitz