Douglas Carter Beane had his own newly minted cheering section when his Mr. and Mrs. Fitch opened Feb. 22 at Second Stage. Some of the cast members of his musical Give It Up!, which just disbanded after its Dallas Theatre Center lift-off gig Jan. 22-Feb. 14, showed up at his Off-Broadway opening.
Prominent among them were Curtis Holbrook, Preston Sadleir and, recently in the role of Lysistrata Jones, Patti Murin. Yes, the old Beane has been messing with the Greek classics again, after messing with the muses of Xanadu. Give It Up! is the "High School Musical" version of Aristophanes' 2,421-year-old no-sex comedy, with the suddenly chastened cheerleaders of Athens U. not giving it up to their losing basketball team. The songs are by Lewis Flinn.
It being close to the Xanadu camp, the show got a good send-off from Variety and the local critics, and Beane fully expects to do it in Manhattan next year. "Where?" you press. "Well," he slyly grins, "that's where the conversations are happening."
Mr. and Mrs. Fitch, Beane's vaulted view of Gotham gossip columnists, are played by John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle. His previous Broadway columnist got him a Tony, but there’s a difference, Lithgow notes: "J. J. Hunsecker destroyed people. Mr. Fitch creates them," and one of his fictional creations gets away from him and is appropriated by other columnists — hence, the "plot." Neither Fitch comes with a first name. Lithgow made one up but wasn't telling. "Call him Harry," he told me.
— Harry Haun