McLean-Kelly biblical play will inaugurate Theater B

“The Ark,” a new musical based on the biblical legend of Noah, has set its world premiere for Nov. 14 at 37 Arts. It is the first show to announce an engagement at the newly constructed, $28 million 10th Avenue complex since the revival of “Hurlyburly” closed there in early July.

“The Ark,” written by Michael McLean and Kevin Kelly, inaugurates Theater B at 37 Arts. Producers on the project are Erik Orton and Karen Walter Goodwin; Ray Roderick directs.

Starring Ethan Hawke and Parker Posey, “Hurlyburly” played Theater A at 37 Arts, opening there in April after a nonprofit run on Theater Row under the auspices of the New Group. It was produced at 37 Arts by Jeffrey Seller and Kevin McCollum, managing members of the Off Broadway theater complex. At the time, Seller told the New York Times that the “Hurlyburly” production would make Off Broadway “hip again.”

Hipness, however, has come slowly to 37 Arts. This summer, Disney Theatricals rented Theater B and Theater C for its casting sessions for the upcoming Broadway musical “Tarzan.” Otherwise, the three venues have been dark.

Two more shows

Alan Schuster, another managing member of 37 Arts, said the group was in negotiations for two other shows to open there this fall. Due to construction delays, 37 Arts opened much later than originally expected and had the disadvantage of seeing its first theater completed in the spring. Off Broadway producers usually avoid opening a show in April-May, a time of year when Broadway and the Tonys traditionally suck up all the legit oxygen.

At present, 37 Arts’ major competition in the Off Broadway market is Dodger Stages, which opened last fall. That 8th Avenue complex has yet to see all five of its theaters filled at the same time. But that situation should change this October. Currently running there are “Altar Boyz,” “Drumsticks” and “Musical of Musicals.” “The Great American Trailer Musical” joins them later this month, and the new play “A Mother, a Daughter, and a Gun” begins previews there in October.

“Theaters take a while to establish themselves,” said one Off Broadway producer. Most producers also agree that Dodger Stages has the advantage of being closer than 37 Arts to subways and the TKTS booth.

Backstage comedy

Farther uptown, the venerable Promenade Theater has booked “In the Wings,” a new play by theater producer Stewart F. Lane. Peter Scolari and Marilyn Sokol headline the backstage comedy about two lovers who star in the same musical, called “I Married a Communist.” Jeremy Dobrish directs.

Previews of “In the Wings” begin Sept. 9, with the opening night set for Sept. 28.

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