‘Design’ gets update

Coward's play makes bizarre love triangle

Broadway hadn’t anticipated an opening like this since Richard Hatch sat on the aisle for the premiere of “The Full Monty.”

Monica Lewinsky, former FOB, emerged at Thursday night’s opening of “Design for Living” as a current FOA, as in Friend of Alan Cumming, star of the Roundabout revival of the Noel Coward comedy. Unfortunately, Lewinsky took her orchestra seat uncommonly early, looking terribly demure in black pants and matching long silk shirt.

At the Laura Belle party afterward, her subdued appearance caused less comment than Cumming’s onstage eyebrow ring in the 1933 period piece.

According to director Joe Mantello, Cumming asked during rehearsals if he should remove his piece of gold facial jewelry. “No,” replied Mantello. End of discussion.

Much more open to talk is Cumming’s onstage kiss with co-star Dominic West, who, in the play, is having an affair with Jennifer Ehle, who is sometimes also getting it on with Cumming.

“I hope people don’t focus on that,” Mantello said of the long kiss that, according to one observer who actually knew Coward, would send the playwright spinning in his underground closet. “The two guys were together before they met her,” Mantello said of Coward’s menage a trois. “These three people are simply obsessed with each other.”

As for his modern directorial touches, Mantello conceded, “I’m sure it was a very different event in 1933,” what with Coward, Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt cast as the cozy threesome. “It was probably about seeing them.”

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