NEW YORK — It’s turning into a big year for Richard Adler.
Miramax recently announced plans for a remake of his “Damn Yankees.”
Now producers Jeffrey Richards and James Fuld are moving ahead with a major Broadway revival of “The Pajama Game.”
Back in the 1950s, those two tuners were back-to-back hits for Adler and his writing partner, Jerry Ross, who brought “Game” to the stage in 1954 followed by “Yankees” a year later.
Richards and Fuld, who last teamed on Broadway with the Tom Selleck starrer “A Thousand Clowns” two years ago, look to go into production on their “Pajama Game” in late spring or early summer 2004. The producers put capitalization at $8 million; they have not yet firmed up plans to do an out-of-town run or open the production directly on Broadway.
The revival will mark Kathleen Marshall‘s Broadway debut as a director. The veteran choreographer has done terp duties on such recent tuners as “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Seussical” and “Follies,” as well as the upcoming “Little Shop of Horrors.” She’ll also choreograph the new “Pajama Game.”
Bob Fosse made his Broadway debut as a choreographer with the original “Pajama Game,” and just how much Marshall re-creates his classic steps for the famous “Steam Heat” ballet remains to be seen.
Richards and Fuld definitely plan more significant changes to the original “Game” book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell, author of the show’s source material, the novel “7½ Cents.” With the various estates’ blessing, the producers have brought on playwright-screenwriter Peter Ackerman (“Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight,” “Ice Age”) to rework the story of a strike at a garment factory.
Theatergoers can expect a somewhat shorter ‘Pajama Game’ this time around.
But the biggest changes to the 2004 “Game” probably will be made by Adler himself. The lyricist-composer has written two new tunes for the show.
‘River’ runs through it
At the opening night party for “Big River,” Michael David wouldn’t say whether the Dodgers, the show’s original producers, would help the Roundabout move the tuner to a commercial Broadway venue. “We’ll see how things go,” he said.
Preem week wasn’t encouraging. The tuner grossed just under $200,000. But upbeat reviews should help.
Speaking through a sign-language interpreter, Deaf West’s Ed Waterstreet said the theater company was exploring other properties that might be adapted to the deaf/vocal double-casting of roles that works so brilliantly for “Big River.”
“We considered ‘Gypsy,’ but the rights were taken then,” he said. “Our next will probably be ‘Cyrano de Bergerac.’ ” Waterstreet looks forward to doing the Rostand classic with a deaf Cyrano, a hard-of-hearing Roxanne and a vocal Christian. “I think the balcony scene will be very interesting,” Waterstreet said.
Stephen Adly Guirgis lost one and gained one last week.
His play “Our Lady of 121st Street” closed July 27 after a five-month run at the Union Square Theater. The next day,the scribe put on his thesp hat to begin work on Todd Solondz‘s “Palindromes.”
Guirgis had been cast in a smaller role in the independent film, but got moved up to one of the lead parts opposite Ellen Barkin when Chris Penn dropped out of the project.
Lengthy profiles of Guirgis in the New Yorker and the Sunday New York Times Magazine preceded the March 6 opening of his “Our Lady of 121st Street,” one of the best reviewed plays of the past legit season.
Although those notices did not propel the commercial production to a profitable run, its 16-week engagement at the Union Square is one of the longest in recent memory for a new play presented in an Off Broadway theater.
Guirgis recently completed work on Brett C. Leonard‘s indie pic “Jailbait.” Previously, he acted in his own plays “Jesus Hopped the A Train” and “In Arabia We’d All Be Kings” in their London and New York productions.
He is a founding member of the Labyrinth Theater Co., which has produced his plays in Gotham.