Beane, Cohen pen musical for Drama Dept.

Sedaris sibs also scribing for new season

Douglas Carter Beane, artistic director of the Drama Dept. and author of “As Bees in Honey Drown,” is at work on a new musical, “The Big Time.”

Douglas Cohen (“No Way to Treat a Lady”) is lyricist-composer of the tuner, which will have its world premiere at the Drama Dept. in spring.

“The Big Time” is Beane’s first musical. “It is a rumination on the relationship between show business and terrorism,” the playwright told guests at a fund-raiser Monday at the Greenwich House, the not-for-profit company’s new permanent home. Entrepreneur Robert B. Sturm has pledged a $1.5 million matching-grant challenge to the Drama Dept., which is currently renovating the West Village venue.

Jonathan Freeman performed the title number from the new musical, singing “Who needs a war, except one that’s in four/four (time).”

Upcoming Sedaris play

Beane also announced a new play by Amy and David Sedaris (“The Talent Family”) for the upcoming season, to be staged by the company in early 2001. Michael Rosenberg, the Drama Dept.’s managing director, said the work is currently untitled, adding, “All Amy and David have told us is that it is about sweet potatoes and racism.”

Richard Greenberg’s new play, “The Dazzle,” a fictionalized account of Harlem’s Colyer brothers, had previously been announced as kicking off the Drama Dept.’s 2000-2001 season. It opens Oct. 3.

New cabaret series

Beane also spoke of presenting a new cabaret series at the Drama Dept., with Isaac Mizrahi’s one-person “Les MIZrahi” to be its premiere offering this fall.

“Isaac sings, tells anecdotes and talks about his first collection, in 1986, using the original sewing machine his father gave him to make a coat,” said Rosenberg. “By the end of the show, he’s made the coat.”

Mizrahi’s act had been in development under the auspices of producers David Stone and Susan Quint Gallin, with Joe Mantello directing. When that team parted ways with Mizrahi, Wendall K. Harrington, who designed projections for the one-person show, brought the project to the attention of the Drama Dept., which subsequently workshopped it for three weeks in June.

At the Monday-night fund-raiser, Mizrahi performed the song “Sweet Marijuana” from the 1934 film “Murder at the Vanities,” starring Kitty Carlisle Hart, a current board member of the Drama Dept.

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