'Capeman' to Minneapolis for tuning?

NEW YORK The phrase “going to Minneapolis” might be on its way to becoming the latest showbiz euphemism, like “playing in Peoria.” In recent weeks, two Broadway musicals have been rumored to be “going to Minneapolis” for some out-of-town tinkering.

Dan Klores, producer of “The Capeman,” shrugs off speculation that the Paul Simon musical will again postpone its Broadway opening to hit the Minnesota highway. With Broadway veteran director Jerry Zaks newly installed to help official director Mark Morris in reworking the troubled musical, “Capeman,” Klores pledges, will open as scheduled (or rescheduled) on Broadway Jan. 29.

The show originally had been set to open Jan. 8 but was postponed. In recent weeks, friendly directors Mike Nichols and Nicholas Hytner have attended previews and made suggestions for improvements (Variety, Dec. 22-Jan. 4), but Zaks has actually been hired to troubleshoot. Morris, a dance legend but Broadway newcomer, will remain the credited director and choreographer, and is attending rehearsals with Zaks.

At least one of the areas Zaks apparently is focusing his attention on is clarifying the “Capeman” storyline. (The musical is based on the life of Salvador (Capeman) Agron, a teenage gang member who killed two other teens in 1959.) At this point, Simon’s involvement doesn’t extend much beyond fine-tuning the songs when necessary. “Paul comes in and out, but right now Jerry and Mark are running it,” Klores says.

As for whether “Side Show” tours, returns to New York or both (or neither) depends, as is usually the case, on money. The $5 million Broadway musical closed Jan. 4 after a three-month run, and while the creative team — director Robert Longbottom, composer Henry Krieger, lyricist Bill Russell — are keen on reuniting the singing Siamese twins for a spring stint on Broadway (just in time for the Tonys), the show’s original investors, sources say, aren’t convinced. The authors are hoping some deep pockets come along and save the day.

CLUB CLUBBED

The Roundabout Theater Company has had better New Year’s eves. Just 24 hours after the Selwyn Theater — the landmark 42nd Street house that Roundabout wants to make its home — partially collapsed and littered its Times Square block with bricks, another venue earmarked by the Roundabout had its share of troubles.

Expo, a Manhattan dance club on West 43rd Street, was chosen earlier this season by the Roundabout to house Sam Mendes’ highly acclaimed London production of “Cabaret,” starring Natasha Richardson. But just as the show was about to begin rehearsals for a Feb. 13 preview, the NYPD padlocked the club — on New Year’s Eve — because of a brouhaha in which the 18-year-old daughter of a Queens politico was conked with a champagne glass by a coke-sniffing thug.

The Dec. 22 incident drew attention because the victim is the daughter of a Nassau County government official, and a temporary restraining order was issued to shut down the club Dec. 31. The restraining order was lifted when Expo’s owners voluntarily agreed to stay shuttered until “Cabaret” moves in and renames the venue the Kit Kat Klub.

A court hearing on the agreement is set for Jan. 15.

Roundabout execs expect “Cabaret” to arrive on time, having already weathered one bout of homelessness when plans for a staging last season fell through because the original nightspot, the Supper Club, pulled out of the project.

As for the Selwyn, the collapse on Dec. 30 of the old theater’s entrance — apparently caused by the demolition of adjacent Times Square buildings — won’t interfere with the Roundabout’s late 1999 scheduled move-in.

TIX OFF

Ticket Central, the ticketing service for Off and Off Off Broadway productions, is launching a new computerized system that the agency says will provide small theaters with the same amenities their Broadway counterparts take for granted.

The service, operated for 14 years by Playwrights Horizons, has been a manual system staffed by four operators out of the Off Broadway theater’s office. The new state-of-the-art computerization, set for launch Jan. 26, is expected to reduce the current average transaction time of 12 minutes to one minute.

LABELLE OF BROADWAY

Singer Patti LaBelle thinks fast. Over the Christmas holidays she decided to launch her new CD “Flame” with appearances in New York. The St. James Theater would soon be vacant with the Jan. 4 closing of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

The St. James wasn’t vacant for long.

“Patti LaBelle on Broadway” begins performances Jan. 13. Originally scheduled for a quickie one-week run, the solo show already has been extended another week.

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