3hree, the trio of one-act musicals embraced in its Philadelphia world premiere in November and accepted as Broadway-boud, ends its second trial run, this time at L.A.'s cavernous Ahmanson Theatre, June 10. The hot new property replaced the cancelled revival of Flower Drum Song (now set for the start of the Mark Taper Forum season in 2001-02). Performances of 3hree began April 17 with an opening April 25.
Legendary director Harold Prince (Evita, Sweeney Todd, Fiddler on the Roof) staged only The Flight of the Lawnchair Man, a comic look at man's desire to fly. Robert Lindsey Nassif and Peter Ullian penned the piece, about an average fellow who hopes to soar by attaching hot air balloons to his lawnchair.
Also on the bill are the ironic The Mice, by Laurence O'Keefe, Nell Benjamin and Julia Jordan, directed by Brad Rouse (who has served as assistant to Hal Prince since 1995); and John Bucchino and James Waedekin's ghost story Lavender Girl, with Scott Schwartz (York Theatre's No Way to Treat a Lady and Broadway's Jane Eyre) directing. The choreographer is Rob Ashford (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Paper Mill Playhouse's Pippin).
Featured in the cast are Anne Bobby, Donna Lynne Champlin, Roger E. DeWitt, Will Garshore, Eddie Korbich, Herdon Lackey, John Schere, Rachel Ulanet and Valerie Wright.
"I thought 3hree would be a very speedy way of introducing a lot of talented people to an audience," Prince said, talking to Playbill On-Line. "To put on a new, full-length show takes a lot of time. To create a show that is 2 hours 20 minutes would take me three years. I'm a slow worker! Instead, I said why not find three one-act musicals. I would work on one, two other guys would take the other two, and we could do it in a year. And we have. I consider ourselves lucky. These are three one-act musicals, and they dovetail in a nice way — although I didn't plan it that way. I didn't put on too many restrictions. But I did say we won't do them on a unit set. Each show deserves its own vision and overture. And I wanted all nine [cast members] in all three of them." Discussing how he came to choose the teams of artists working on this production, Prince said, "A year ago this past summer I started to put the word out. I approached two men that I kind of mentored, Robert Lindsey Nasiff and Peter Ullian, and said, "I'd like to work with you. Would you get an idea for a one-act musical?" And they did. A wonderful new composer, John Bucchino, who is very popular, had written Urban Myths, which was a collection of eight one-act musicals. My daughter Daisy had said to me that there's one that would work really well in an evening of one-acts. That was Lavender Girl. So we approached him and he did more re writing, fleshed it out some and now it stands on its own.
"We got many, many ideas presented. There were some ideas that I didn't think that highly of, but these [selected ones] are very strong. We spent last year developing them and held a reading at the Director's Company last May. The reading went awfully well, I think. Marjorie came to see it and said 'Let's do it.'"
— By Christine Ehren