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‘Laughing’ all the way to Broadway

Producer aims to transfer tuner revival next year

“Enter Laughing,” the musical comedy that drew rave reviews in two runs at Off Broadway’s York Theater, is aiming for Broadway in fall 2010.

Dan Whitten (“Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris”) will lead produce the Rialto incarnation of the tuner based on Carl Reiner’s 1958 semi-autobiographical novel.

Main Stem transfer will likely be capitalized at around $6 million, Whitten said. Reiner has tentatively committed to be involved as an investor.

Plot centers around an aspiring thesp trying to make it in 1930s Gotham. Helmed by Stuart Ross (“Forever Plaid”), the musical has a book by Joseph Stein (“Fiddler on the Roof”) and music and lyrics by Stan Daniels.

During the show’s original runs at the York, one of the elements to elicit hefty helpings of critical praise was the perf of actor Josh Grisetti in the central role. Grisetti had previously been set to make his Broadway debut next month in the revival of Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound,” but that production was scuttled due to low sales at the related revival of “Brighton Beach Memoirs” (in which the actor did not appear).

No cast for the proposed Rialto incarnation of “Enter Laughing” has yet been confirmed, but Whitten said he expected 60% to 70% of the Off Broadway ensemble — which included Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker and George S. Irving — to return. Design team also has yet to be nailed down.

Stein initially penned an adaptation of “Enter Laughing” as a straight play, seen on Broadway in a 1963 production that earned thesp Alan Arkin a Tony. (Reiner directed a movie adaptation of the play in 1967.) But the 1976 preem of the tuner version, originally titled “So Long, 174th Street,” lasted less than 25 perfs on the Rialto.

Whitten is set to make an official announcement of the transfer plans tonight at a York gala honoring songwriting duo Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, with whom Stein worked on “Fiddler.”

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