Act One: “Spence and Me”

Close_glenn_02It was 5 p.m. in New York today when I reached David Brown at his (and Helen Gurley Brown’s) penthouse. Glenn Close and  Brian Murray had just completed the first reading of John Dayton’s play, “Spence and Me” directed by Jerry Zaks. “We just moved some furniture around in the dining room and made a little theater,” said Brown. All of his previous shows (like the current hit “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”) had started with a read through, but never before in their home. There were 22 in the Browns’ dining room/theater for the event. The reading was not for financing, Brown reminded. This was for creative purposes and he claims it was “simply riveting.” He credits his fellow producer Bill Self and Jerry Zaks with getting Glenn Close to read/perform the play. “And she has already sent it out to Robert Redford,” Brown told me. Redford will be 71 next month; Tracy is 76 in the play’s setting, 1967, the last month of the legendary actor’s life. Both principals talk to the audience, as well as to each other in Dayton’s play. As Close was about to do the reading, she revealed to Dayton that Hepburn was an inspiration to her. When she was in college, Glenn saw Kate  on a Dick Cavett show and then changed her major. After the reading, Close went on for her chores on “Damage,” which bows Tuesday on FX. Meanwhile, producers Brown and Self say the next step is to find a regional theater for “Spence and Me” and then move on to Off B’way, and then who knows? That, indeed, is showbiz.

And talking about Broadway, I was also chatting with Mel Brooks about progress on “Young  Frankenstein.” While principals are rehearsing in N.Y., the tech rehearsals have started in the Paramount Theater of Seattle where the show starts previews Aug. 7  until Sept. 1. Afterwards the show heads to N.Y. and its home at the Hilton Theater on 42nd street, where previews start on Oct.11. The musical opens officially on Nov.8.  Mel allows that this is his “piece de resistance — and hope there is no resistance.”

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