Mechanic gets a pre-Broadway show for 1995


A Broadway tryout starring Ben Gazzara and four musicals, including "The Who's Tommy," will highlight the Baltimore Center for Performing Arts' 1994-1995 season, general manager Steve Goldstein has announced.

The pre-Broadway show, "Flowers and Photos, An American Romance" (Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, April 4-23, 1995), is about the marriage of artist Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who will be played by Gazzara. "We are very excited to be presenting another pre-Broadway attraction," Goldstein said, referring to the BCPA's reputation as a host for tryouts. With fewer productions trying out on the road, this will be the BCPA's first pre-Broadway show since fall 1991.

Written by Lanie Robertson -- best known for "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" -- the two-person "Flowers and Photos" "takes place at the time of Stieglitz's death, on the day of his funeral, and then flashes all the way back to when they met," Goldstein said. The role of O'Keeffe has not been cast; Zoe Caldwell will direct.

In addition to "The Who's Tommy," the subscription season will include one other current Broadway musical -- the large-scale revival of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which will feature an on-stage choir of 50 local children. Also announced were a new production of "Godspell," as well as "A Grand Night for Singing," a Rodgers and Hammerstein revue produced on Broadway this season.

One major change is that the BCPA is reducing the runs of its subscription shows by one week. Mechanic Theatre engagements, which have been four weeks since the 1986-1987 season, will now be three weeks. Lyric Opera House engagements will be two weeks instead of three.

The shorter runs are "not a reflection of the subscription. The subscription base has really held steady for the last three years, between 18,000 and 19,000. The problem has been that there have been fewer single-ticket sales," Goldstein said.

He continued: "The other half of the story is that the producers and bookers in New York have asked us to cut back the season engagements as a number of markets across the country have " developed from split weeks into full weeks, and new markets have opened up. There are in fact fewer weeks available."

The season will open Oct. 4-23 at the Mechanic with a revival of "Godspell." Based on the gospel according to St. Matthew, this 1971 musical has a book by John-Michael Tebelak and music by Stephen Schwartz, including the hit song "Day by Day."

"A Grand Night for Singing," coming to the Mechanic Dec. 27 to Jan. 15, 1995, originated at New York's Roundabout Theatre in November. The five-actor revue was created in honor of the 50th anniversary of the collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (Jan. 17-29, 1995, Lyric), the first musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, started out as a short piece for a London school choir. When the theatrical version made its New York debut in 1981, its producers included two young Baltimoreans, Susan Rose and Gail Berman. The current revival, produced by Lloyd Webber's own Really Useful Theatre Company, is the biggest version yet.

The season will conclude with "Tommy" (May 2-14, 1995, Lyric), the stage version of the Who's 1969 rock opera about a traumatized child who becomes a pinball wizard. Loaded with special effects, the production "is one of the biggest tours out on the road," Goldstein said.

The subscription season will include two other shows, which Goldstein plans to announce this summer. He said he expects them to be straight plays and hopes at least one will be pre-Broadway.

In addition, two non-subscription offerings were announced -- "The Great Radio City Music Hall Spectacular" (Oct. 25-30, Lyric), starring Susan Anton, and a return engagement of "The Nutcracker" (Nov. 29 to Dec. 4, Mechanic).

BCPA subscriptions are on sale and range from $120 to $320. Call (410) 625-1400.

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