He was guest host on TV's "Tonight Show" more than 100 times, making him a household name, but Orson Bean made his name on Broadway, where he won a Tony for Subways Are For Sleeping and had a two year run in Never Too Late.
Now Bean will bring his directing skills to Off-Broadway, where he's staging Nagle Jackson's The Quick-Change Room (Scenes From A Revolution) for the LAB Theatre Company. Previews begin Oct. 7 for an opening Oct. 12.
Jackson's comedy follows a famed Russian theatre troupe in the age of glasnost and perestroika -- in other words, lower ticket sales and an acting company that can no longer depend on state funding. Commercial considerations intrude on the company's art, until their serious production of The Three Sisters becomes the musical comedy, Oh, My Sister -- with only two sisters in it.
Bean previously directed Quick-Change Room at the Pacific Resident Theatre in L.A. His other acting credits include Homer in 1967's Ilya Darling.
Starring in Quick-Change are Simon Jones (Roundabout Theatre's The Real Inspector Hound & The Fifteen Minute Hamlet, 1991's Getting Married) and Alley Mills, best known for playing the mother on TV's "Wonder Years." Also in the cast are Lisa Barnes, Sydney Bennett, Tom Bozell, Susan Dexter, Marilyn Fox, Kenny Morris, Gregory Vignolle and William Wise. Designing the show are Audrey Eisner (costumes), Deborah Constantine (lighting) and Peter Stenshoel (sound). Former artistic director of Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and NJ's McCarter Theatre, Jackson has penned At This Evening's Performance, Opera Comique, This Day And Age, Moliere Plays Paris and a 1992 musical adaptation of They Shoot Horses Don't They?. Jackson directed Death Of A Salesman at Milwaukee Rep in 1976 and Travesties at American Conservatory Theatre the same year.
The LAB Theatre Company, Inc. is essentially an off-shoot of the now defunct Circle Repertory Theatre. (LAB artistic director Michael Warren Powell ran Circle Rep's LAB for a decade.) Recent activities by the company included a 10-hour/40-play marathon ("All-Day-Sucker"), workshops at LI's Adelphi University, and Clark Middleton's Miracle Mile, at the Theatre Row Theatre in September.
The Quick-Change Room (Scenes From A Revolution) begins previews at Intar Theatre, 420 West 42nd St., Oct. 7, with an opening set for Oct. 12. For tickets ($18) and information call (212) 704-0436.
--By David Lefkowitz