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STAGE WATCH

Future Of 'Kvetch' Is Drama With Many Acts

May 15, 1986|LAWRENCE CHRISTON

Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch!

That's what we all do at one time or another, and that's what has rebounded on British playwright Steven Berkoff's "Kvetch," a comedy about one's bilious subconscious pouring out. It opened at the Odyssey Theatre, an Equity Waiver house, in March.

In the meantime, independent producer Hilliard (Hilly) Elkins announced on May 5 that "Kvetch" would move to the Westwood Playhouse, a contract house, in mid-May. On May 6, he conceded that he hadn't come to terms with the Odyssey. In the week since, the fate of "Kvetch" has been very much up in the air.

"I don't want to talk about this in the media, because it looks as though in the next couple of days we'll come to terms," said Ron Sossi, the Odyssey's artistic director. "Everyone wants to move the show. But he (Elkins) had no authorization to represent the show.

"He has a friendship with Berkoff, and we acceded to that. But there was no contract with the actors, no plan with Equity. We've been offered billing for subsequent production, yes, and a passive financial interest. Our main concern is Los Angeles and how it would be produced here. We didn't necessarily think the Westwood was the best place to move it to."

(Sossi also believes that "Kvetch" might have been the ideal show with which to realize the Odyssey's own bid for conversion of its main theater to a full Equity space.)

"We made a generous offer regarding gross and net," Elkins said, "and billing for future productions. Berkoff owns the rights to future production, not the Odyssey. All I'm trying to do is make a deal that'll protect everybody."

Neither Sossi nor Elkins would disclose the exact terms of that deal, and Berkoff, who is in London, could not be reached for comment.

As of Tuesday, Berkoff's U.S. agent, Elizabeth Marton, claimed to know nothing conclusive about "Kvetch's" fate. "There is no existing contract with the Odyssey Theatre," she said. "There's no question of releasing a play if you don't have rights."

On the other hand, she said, "Hilliard was premature in his announcement. We hope we can move it, and there's talk of engaging the Odyssey. Several parties are interested in this play. We're in negotiations now. Nothing has been resolved.

"Whatever happens, I'll have to confer with Steven before we can come up with an answer."

John Astin, Shaun Cassidy, Joyce Van Patten, Kyle Secor and Andrea Walters will appear in the Pasadena Playhouse production of Ketti Frings' "Look Homeward, Angel," to open June 7.

(Previews are June 5 and 6).

This play, based on the novel by Thomas Wolfe, is the second production to move into the freshly renovated main stage of the Pasadena landmark.

Others in the large cast are Lucy Butler, Scotch Byerley, David Dunard, John Fields, Redmond Gleeson, Dennis Haskins, Leonard Herrman, Brandis Kemp, Tony Maggio, Dale Raoul, Miriam Reed, Verna Rose Smith, Lauren Tuerk and Grace Zabriskie.

Playhouse artistic director Jessica Myerson will direct.

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