Andrews_julieJulie Andrews is returning to Broadway — as a director. Her most charming book,"The Great American Mousical," which she wrote with daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, is being musicked by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles, the team who tuned the musical "Mary Poppins." The ultra charming, humorous and yes, exciting "Mousical" also takes on some of the recognizable Broadway stars who appear on stage above the cellar-dwellng mice. The book was illustrated by Tony Walton who will likely design the sets and costumes, making this Broadway production a family affair. Meanwhile, "Simeon’s Gift," which Julie and Emma bring to the Sag Harbor Bay Street Theater Thanksgiving, is just finding its legs in preparation to tour   children’s theaters and schools. It is a tender story set in the 15th century about a man’s travels among animals. The music is by Ian Fraser and John Bucchino. While Julie Andrews continues spreading joy with her career, her autobiography "Home" (Hyperion) hits bookshelves April 1.

There was a long line inside the lobby of the Ahmanson Theater on Wednesday and it was AFTER the final curtain and the standing ovation  for the opening night performance of "The History Boys." The lobby line quickly dispersed after patrons visited the ushers station to return loaned-out hearing devices and get their driver’s licenses back. I’d never seen, nor been a part of, such a hearing-assisted audience. Had they all read the reviews from New York or London describing Alan Bennett’s generous, colorful and non-stop, rapid-fire dialogue? On an average night at the Ahmanson, between 40-60 hearing devices are distributed, though the number increases by roughly 10% for plays as opposed to musicals. For "The History Boys," which is on the Taper subscription list, those who enter the Ahmanson automatically assume they won’t be able to hear because the Ahmanson is a much bigger theater, and the house always keeps more than enough devices on hand. However, for this production, Christine Cox, the Ahmanson’s house manager,  had to borrow some from the Taper (which is closed) to meet the added demand. After struggling through the first act, some audience members asked for hearing devices for the second act, when the dialogue gets saltier. P.S. The newly-redecorated Taper will re-open in the summer of ’08.

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