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Stage Watch

Old Globe Going the Musical Route Again; Flying Karamozovs Coming to Doolittle

September 10, 1987|SYLVIE DRAKE | Times Theater Writer

The people at the San Diego Old Globe are making a habit of this. For the second time in two years they're doing a new musical with, let's say, connections to New York.

They did it in December with the world premiere of Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's "Into the Woods" (opening at Broadway's Martin Beck Oct. 29). They'll be doing it again next spring with "A Foggy Day," the new, old-fashioned musical with book by Neil Simon and music by none other than the Gershwin boys.

The Gershwins ?

"I've been asked to write a musical a lot lately," Neil Simon explained Wednesday from New York, "but it's been hard for me to find a composer to work with. Someone suggested I take a look at 'Girl Crazy,' but I didn't want to rewrite somebody else's book. This same person put me in touch with the Gershwin estate and they gave me access to all the material with the exception of 'Porgy and Bess' and 'Of Thee I Sing.' My own exclusion was 'My One and Only.' That still left about 150 songs."

Simon picked a nucleus of about 50 Gershwin tunes and has incorporated 19 of them into "A Foggy Day." "That's too many, he cautioned, "but there will be changes."

"He wrote the book around the music," said Globe managing director Tom Hall, who's read it. "There will be familiar stuff but also unfamiliar songs. It's a '30s musical with a (comedic) suspense and love story set in London and Vienna."

Simon chose the Globe "mostly to work in relative privacy," he said, "as far away as possible from New York. We did 'Broadway Bound' at Duke University and that worked very well. I like the proximity of the Globe to my home, now that I live in Los Angeles."

What about Los Angeles itself?

"That's the worst," he said. "It's like New Haven. I've opened a lot of shows at the Ahmanson and half of Hollywood is in the audience."

The Globe will produce the San Diego edition of "A Foggy Day" and participate financially in its future. No director has been set though Hall said early discussions would seem to rule out Globe artistic director Jack O'Brien.

(O'Brien, who directed the impressive Houston Grand Opera "Porgy and Bess," is heavily committed at the Globe next year and will stage another new musical: Steven Metcalfe's "White Linen," based on folk tales of the Old West.)

One thing is certain: "A Foggy Day," with 24 principals and two city settings, will be big. Rehearsals begin Feb. 16 with a run set from April 6 to May 29.

Another, less happy Globe footnote is that its 1988 summer season may not be a repertory, the result of rep's increasingly high costs and the reluctance of too many actors to commit for 22 weeks.

"Every year we do a post-mortem," Hall said, "and year in, year out we find it gets more difficult. It doesn't make a lot of difference to out-of-towners who come in and see six shows and one begins to wonder where the payoff is. . . . But nothing's decided."

THE CRAZIES ARE BACK: Those zany Flying Karamazov Brothers, replete with knives, torches, minor insanities, Russian garb and bearded faces are coming to the Doolittle Theatre Oct. 6-18. Their new show: "Juggle & Hyde." They juggle, you hide. (We kid.)

What's it about? What is any of their shows ever about? Just skill (plenty of it), acrobatics (ditto), absurdity, perpetual motion and a running commentary guaranteed to make no sense. You'll love it.

The Karamazovs have kept one thing from their old show: They challenge the audience to stump their skills by bringing objects for them to juggle. These must be heavier than an ounce, lighter than 10 pounds and no bigger than a breadbox. Start thinking.

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