Drama Dept., the much-acclaimed theatrical troupe (As Bees in Honey Drown, Uncle Tom's Cabin, June Moon) recently, will give June Moon co-author George S. Kaufman further due with a benefit salute June 22 at 8 PM at Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre.
Anne Kaufman Schneider, the playwright's daughter, and Kitty Carlisle Hart, widow of one of Kaufman's best collaborators, Moss Hart, will share hosting duties for the event.
"Anne has given us some material that has never before been performed -- like letters to [character actress] Mary Wickes," he says, "and she'll read some of the letters her father wrote to him. Kitty will read some letters George wrote to Moss when Moss was afraid to write. George used to write him letters to cheer him up. It's some very touching stuff."
The evening's program, aptly titled By George!, will also include some never-before-performed essays that Kaufman wrote for The New Yorker ("Annoy Kaufman Inc.," "A School for Waiters," etc.) as well as some sketches he wrote from the '20s to the '50s for revues like Irving Berlin's Third Music Box Revue, et al. These will be directed by David (From Beyond) Warren and performed by members of the Drama Dept. (like: Justin Kirk, Peter Gallagher, Billy Crudup, Patricia Clarkson, June Moon Obie winner Albert Macklin, Stephen Flaherty, John Cameron Mitchell, Mark Nelson, Cynthia Nixon, Mary Beth Peil, Judy Kuhn and J. Smith Cameron).
A post-performance reception, complete with cocktails and a buffet supper, will be held at the Broadway Grill in the Crown Plaza Hotel (on Broadway, between 48th and 49th).
Members of the Honorary Committee for the Drama Dept. include Victor Garber, Sir Alec Guinness, Parker Posey, Joan Rivers, Stephen Sondheim, Carol Channing, Charles Nelson Reilly, Marcia Lewis,Lillias White and Matthew Broderick.
Tickets for the event range from $200 to $400 to $1,000 and can be acquired by calling the Drama Dept. at (212) 541-8299. Proceeds will benefit this non-profit theatre company.
The Drama Dept. previously produced revivals of Tennessee Williams' Kingdom of Earth and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. Its next scheduled production will be a revival of Irving Berlin's seldon-seen As Thousands Cheer.
-- By Harry Haun