Produces two stage shows that open this month
Whoopi Goldberg is gearing up to direct a documentary about comic Moms Mabley while producing two very different stage tuners that open this month, “Sister Act” on Broadway and “White Noise” in Chicago.
There’s also a possibility the Mabley docu will be accompanied by an Off Broadway outing of Goldberg’s solo show about Mabley, “Moms.”
Produced by Goldberg, Tom Leonardis and George Schlatter, the new doc aims to explore the life of pioneering black comedian Mabley. Goldberg has shown a longstanding interest in the comic: She originally performed the solo show, which incorporates material from Mabley’s comedy, in the Bay Area in the early 1980s.
“At the time, she was the only woman of color doing comedy who was on everybody’s show,” Goldberg said of Mabley, who died in 1975. “She talked about race relations before it was really cool to do that.”
The co-host of “The View” hopes to complete the film by the end of the year, mentioning next year’s Tribeca Film Festival as one possible target outlet for the preem.
Also a legit producer, Goldberg, who was on the producing team of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” has on tap two stage tuners that seem 180 degrees apart: The splashy musical version of “Sister Act,” now in previews and opening April 20 at the Broadway Theater, and “White Noise,” an edgy story of a pop duo whose songs are coded White Supremacist anthems, now in the midst of an eight-week run at Chicago’s Royal George Theater.
Goldberg joined the producing team of “Sister Act” — the musical version of the 1992 comedy in which she starred — after its Pasadena preem but ahead of its London incarnation, which ran more than a year and earned raves for star Patina Miller, who reprises her role on Broadway.
The Gotham version, also produced by Stage Entertainment and Joop van den Ende, is being spruced up by helmer Jerry Zaks and scribe Douglas Carter Beane, who contributes additional material to the original book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner. Producers brought Zaks and Beane on board the tuner last fall.
Goldberg said she did not envision playing a stint in the Broadway version the way she did on the West End, where she spent a few weeks in the role of Mother Superior. That gig came down to scheduling circumstances that probably won’t be repeated, she said.
As “Sister Act” launches its Broadway run, the future life of Sergio Trujillo-helmed “White Noise,” with book by Matte O’Brien and songs by Robert Morris, Steven Morris and Joe Shane, has not yet been decided. The producers — who also include Holly Way, Jay Strommen and Leonardis — will determine what comes next for the potentially controversial show sometime after the musical opens Saturday.
“This one’s edgy,” she said. “I know it’s going to get us a lot of heat.”
Goldberg said she likes to be creatively involved in the stage projects she produces, but not too much so. “I’m as hands-on as I can be without being annoying,” she said.
She added that while “Sister Act” and “White Noise” seem to live on opposing ends of the legit spectrum, they both grabbed her. “They give two different things, but they both give,” she said. “‘Sister Act’ you can take the baby to see. ‘White Noise’ you can take teenagers, and then have a discussion with them afterwards.”