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Stage Watch

Neil Simon Postpones 'A Foggy Day'; Pricing the 1989 Festival for People

October 01, 1987|SYLVIE DRAKE | Times Theater Writer

The announcement last week that "A Foggy Day," the new Neil Simon musical set to music by the Gershwins, had been "indefinitely postponed" at the San Diego Old Globe was not inaccurate. Just incomplete. Simon's not sure if he'll pursue the project.

"I hadn't realized," he said Monday in Los Angeles, "how difficult it is to write a show with songs that are so familiar. It never ceases to amaze me that, no matter how long you've been in this business, you don't know what's wrong with a show until you hear it.

"Whether I go on with this one remains to be seen. I'm putting it aside for a while to clear my mind and work on a play I'd started before ('Foggy Day')."

So "Foggy Day" is shelved--until the fog clears. The new play is called "Jake's Women" and, said Simon, "there's not a lot more I want to say about it." He volunteered that the first act is written, that he's embarking on the second and that it might be done at the Globe "very possibly in the same slot" vacated by "Foggy Day."

Rehearsals for the Gershwin/Simon musical were to have started in February, with an opening scheduled for April 6. Can "Jake's Women" be ready by then?

"Oh, for sure," said Simon.

To that end he's asked Globe artistic director Jack O'Brien to keep the April 6 slot open a while longer, which O'Brien is doing.

"I'm trying desperately to give Neil (Simon) the lead time he needs," O'Brien confirmed Tuesday. As for the shelving of "Foggy Day," O'Brien, who was at the reading in New York, believes it's only temporary. "This kind of project always needs a dialogue," he said. "Neil (Simon) had no one but himself and the (Gershwin song) catalogue to talk to. It would have been foolish for him to pressure himself just to fit our subscription requirements. I want to serve him in the right way and serve our audiences too. The only way to do that is to be real clear with both."

AFTERFEST FALLOUT: Wednesday's Calendar provided a lot of solid, mixed reflection on the first Los Angeles Festival.

That it closed in the black was good news. With the iconoclastic Peter Sellars running the show in 1989, it promises an even wider eclecticism. All to the good.

There are, however, things to consider for 1989: longer stays and lower-priced tickets. At $35, with a whopping $90 for "Mahabharata," tickets were too high. Blame it only partly on the fallen dollar. While artistic elitism is a welcome and (we hope) durable aspect of this international festival, it must not translate into economic elitism. The festival must be affordable.

That "Every single ticket was subsidized to a very heavy degree," as Robert Fitzpatrick insisted, is no doubt true, but all it means--are you listening, Peter Sellars?--is that the festival needs to go after more subsidy.

The excessive $5 parking fee at the Raleigh and Paramount lots raises another point. It's the festival's responsibility to provide parking arrangements. In as "iffy" a neighborhood as Melrose and Van Ness, it should've been free.

How about coaxing the recalcitrant studios--which, in the best of all possible worlds, should be scrambling to get behind such an event--into donating the use of their lots next time? How about coaxing them and the entire film and television industry into sponsoring some of the festival?

It's an old issue in a new guise, but it remains a burning one. With bewildering indifference, the "industry," which regularly raids the live performing arts for talent, continues to refuse to invest in them or recognize this staggering failure of responsibility.

Footnote: Le Cirque du Soleil, which started the whole thing with such dazzle and extended its stay, returns to the Los Angeles area Oct. 30. Watch for it to surface in Long Beach or Santa Monica.

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