“THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG”
Ladies and gents,
You know when you have every intention of seeing a hot new show with its original cast, and for some reason life keeps getting in the way? And next thing you know either the cast has changed or the show is closed? I call them “pass-me-bys,” and my top three are: I Am My Own Wife with Jefferson Mays, My One and Only starring Tommy Tune and Twiggy, and They’re Playing Our Song starring Robert Klein and Lucie Arnaz. I was stuck in LA for the entire run of I Am My Own Wife. I was in a giant feud with the press agent for My One and Only, Judy Jacksina, and by the time we mended fences the show had shuttered. But how I missed They’re Playing I Song, I’ll never know. I am sure it had something to do with the fact that I didn’t discover psychedelic mushrooms until June of 1978 and the next three-and-a-half years of my life were akin to living inside a Saturday morning cartoon, but terrifying.
Well, the theater gods have smiled upon me and offered me a chance to right this horrible wrong. On Monday night, exactly 40 years to the day after its Broadway opening, the Actors Fund will hold a reunion concert version of They’re Playing Our Song featuring its original stars! As for me, I ain’t eating so much as a portabella between now and Monday – I’m not taking any chances!
Also on board for this one-nighter? Original costumer Ann Roth, who I hear has taken the iconic red fringed dress and given it a 21st century make-over. I can’t wait to see what she’s whipped up! I hear it’s dazzling.
I also hear that the legendary core creative team will be represented by its two surviving members: lyricist Carole Bayer Sager and choreographer Patricia Birch. (Bookwriter Neil Simon, composer Marvin Hamlisch, and director Robert Moore are, of course, no longer with us.)
Also no longer here to cheer: Lucille Ball, who played proud mama back in 1979 in a sparkly red jumpsuit. As legend has it, she agreed to take just one photo backstage after the opening night performance, and only in profile, as she gave her triumphant daughter a kiss on her cheek. This night belonged to Lucie, and nothing was going pull focus – not even the most famous television star of all time in a sparkly red jumpsuit.
The show, of course, is based on the real-life love story between its songwriting team, Hamlisch and Sager. Well, that original run led to the blossoming of another real life love story. While Lucie Arnaz was bringing down the house over at the Imperial Theatre, a handsome young actor named Laurence Luckinbill was at the Eugene O’Neill starring in the play Chapter Two, also by Neil Simon. Well, Simon star met Simon star, and next year Lucie and Laurence will celebrate 40 years of marriage. That’s a long run, even by Neil Simon standards.
Tidbits from around town…
Caught Jo Anne Worley jumping up-and-down and screaming in the fifth row of LA’s Pantages Theatre during Betty Buckley’s final bow in Hello, Dolly!
Spotted Cinderella star Laura Osnes miss her uptown C Train due to insufficient funds. (The modern Manhattan version of having your carriage turn into a pumpkin.)
Overheard TV’s Marcia Cross asking a bodega cook, “Is the pepper jack very spicy?”
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!