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Tolins, Hutton plays now just a ‘Memory’

'Waverly,' 'Bang' benefit from play closings

Two new plays, Jonathan Tolins’ “If Memory Serves” and Arlene Hutton’s “Last Train to Nibroc,” will not make it into the new millennium — at least, not in their original Off Broadway venues.

The Tolins comedy about a TV star and her dysfunctional son, starring Elizabeth Ashley and Sam Trammell, closed Dec. 26 after 20 previews and 16 regular performances at the Promenade Theater. It premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in September 1998.

Hutton’s two-character play about a young woman and soldier who meet and fall in love during WWII closed Dec. 19 after 13 previews and 33 performances at the Douglas Fairbanks Theater. It premiered at the 78th Street Theater Lab and was performed by the Journey Co. at the Assembly Rooms for the 1999 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Thanks to the current theater crunch, the bad news is good news for two shows waiting in the wings.

Kenneth Lonergan’s “The Waverly Gallery,” to headline Eileen Heckart, begins previews at the Promenade in March. Anita Waxman, Randall Wreghitt and Elizabeth Williams are producing; Scott Ellis will direct the play about a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s. The drama had its world premiere last summer at the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theater Festival.

In with a ‘Bang’

“The Big Bang,” a new musical comedy, begins previews in February or March at the Douglas Fairbanks Theater. Eric Krebbs and Nancy Gibbs are producing the original musical, which will be performed by its composer-orchestrator, Jed Feuer, and its lyricist-book writer, Boyd Graham, who also directs. A two-character vehicle, “The Big Bang” concerns a couple of guys who hold a backers’ audition in their New York apartment for what they hope will be Broadway’s most expensive musical, covering the history of the world from creation to the present.

“The joke is that it’s the most improbable Broadway show,” Feuer said of the tuner within a tuner. Improbability played its part in bringing “The Big Bang” to a 42nd Street theater. “One day we were feeling down about the business,” Feuer recalled. “I said, ‘We don’t we write something for ourselves.’ And this light bulb went off.”

Four years later, “The Big Bang” was performed at last September’s National Alliance of Musical Theater workshop.

The team’s previous musical, “Eating Raoul,” was performed at the Union Square Theater, and will be presented next fall at London’s Bridewell Theater, with Rick Gordon producing.

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