When the going gets tough, the tough find partners. It's happening a lot in theater these days.
The Ahmanson is trading productions with the Haymarket Theatre in London. The New York Shakespeare Festival is doing the same with London's Royal Court Theatre--and Joseph Papp is even raising money for the latter.
Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park has offered three original musicals this season that were generated by New York University's new Musical Theater Program. (The link here is the Playhouse's director, Robert Chalfin, who used to run New York's Chelsea Theatre Center.)
Trinity Square Repertory Company of Providence, R.I., and the Dallas Theatre Center are doing a long-distance co-production of Shaw's "Misalliance," with the Pittsburgh Public Theater as the intermediate stop on their mini-tour. The stars are the same (including Ford Rainey), but the supporting casts vary in each city.
And the Berkeley Repertory Theater is collaborating with the San Jose Repertory Company on "Execution of Justice," Emily Mann's docudrama of the Dan White case. Berkeley will see the play in June, San Jose in July.
The Shuberts and the Nederlanders, Broadway's biggest landlords, also have been known to co-produce shows ("Nicholas Nickleby"). But usually they're scrapping. At the moment the Shuberts are complaining that the Nederlanders' theater in the new Marriot Marquis hotel--for which the Helen Hayes and the Morosco theaters were destroyed--is shaping up as a disaster, more like a Las Vegas showroom than a legitimate theater. The Shuberts, of course, once hoped to run this house themselves. The Nederlanders reply: sour grapes.
If you are under the impression that smoke effects on the stage are less choking than they used to be, you're right. Rosco Laboratories of Port Chester, N.Y., has developed a new kind of artificial smoke, not derived from a petroleum base. The company won an Academy Award this week for this innovation, but it's the theater that ought to be the most grateful. Oil-based smoke leaves a coating on the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia when a stage performer has to breathe the stuff every night. "Cats" and "Dream Girls" are two of the shows that use the new vapor.
American plays turn up under some fascinating titles in Europe. The reader would probably guess that "Buonanotte Mamma" at the Piccolo Teatro di Milano is Marsha Norman's " 'night, Mother." But what would you see if you bought a ticket to "Le Chat de la Saint-Sylvestre" in Paris? "P.S., Your Cat Is Dead."
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: G.B.S. (quoted in the Trinity Square Repertory Theater newsletter)--"My experience as an enlightener, which is considerable, is that what is wrong with the average citizen is not altogether deficient political capacity. It is largely ignorance of facts, creating a vacuum into which all sorts of romantic antiquarian junk and cast-off primitive religion rushes."