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'Miserables,' a New 'My Girl' at LACLO; Dispute Clouds National Theatre's Visit

October 15, 1987|DON SHIRLEY

"Les Miserables," "Me and My Girl" and "Nunsense" will make up the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera 1988 season.

The return of "Me and My Girl," so soon after a 1986 LACLO offering of the same show (with a different cast), and the subscription plans for "Les Miserables" have prompted a few protests.

"Me and My Girl" is expected at the Pantages, probably in February, on a tour that also will stop at San Diego Civic Theatre and the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The company that's now in San Francisco, starring Tim Curry as "Me" and Donna Bullock as "My Girl," will move south.

Robert Lindsay and Maryann Plunkett starred in the "Me and My Girl" that played an LACLO engagement at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in 1986. But despite the cast changes, the LACLO has received a few phone calls and at least one letter criticizing the quick return of this British confection from the '30s.

"You are selling the same show twice," wrote Michael P. King, a Century City attorney, in his letter to LACLO. "We already paid for and saw 'Me and My Girl' through the Civic Light Opera. (Yet) I have been advised by your salesperson . . . that we must buy the tickets to this show to retain our ticket priority.

"When I objected . . . she advised me that there was great demand for the tickets and for that reason, the show was booked twice . . . I see no reason why you cannot retain these tickets and sell them to the public rather than shifting that burden onto me." King, who's paying $409 for his four-ticket package, demanded "an appropriate reduction in the subscription renewal form."

He won't get it, said Seiden. "We turned thousands of people away from 'Me and My Girl' (in 1986), so we felt it was appropriate to bring it back." He suggested that King could sell or give away the tickets or simply not buy the package. But he added that no one has canceled a subscription over this issue.

The inclusion of "Les Miserables" may be one reason why most LACLO subscribers aren't complaining about the return of "Me and My Girl." Yet the booking of this long-awaited extravaganza into the Shubert (a spokeswoman said producer Cameron Mackintosh hopes for a June opening) has prompted its own complaints.

This will be the first regular LACLO appearance at the Shubert (though "Annie," at the Shubert, was offered to 1978-79 LACLO subscribers as a bonus attraction). The last two shows at the Shubert, "42nd Street" and "Cats," were offered as a package called the Shubert Subscription Series.

Shubert subscriber Jacqueline Stern, a Los Angeles secretary, asks why LACLO subscribers have aced out Shubert subscribers at the head of the line for "Les Miserables" tickets.

Because the Shubert Organization is not one of the producers of "Les Miserables," said a Shubert spokesman. The show will simply occupy a Shubert theater.

Nevertheless, Shubert subscribers will be solicited for "Les Miserables" tickets after dates are announced. This will enable them to choose the date of the performance they want, in contrast with those who sign up via LACLO renewals. At this point, the LACLO can offer only choices of day of the week and week of the run (within the first eight weeks).

But couldn't the good tickets be gone by the time the Shubert mailings go out? "The Shubert subscribers will be taken care of," pledged the Shubert spokesman.

The other LACLO show, "Nunsense," is expected first, probably in January, at the Henry Fonda. A musical that follows the efforts of the Little Sisters of Hoboken to put on a benefit talent show, "Nunsense" has already played 750 performances Off Broadway, and in more than 40 other cities--including the current San Francisco run of the Los Angeles-bound company.

At this point, LACLO subscribers have been solicited for renewals, but new subscribers won't be able to sign up for several weeks. Watch for advertisements.

LACLO information: (213) 468-1700. Shubert information: (213) 201-1500.

UK/LA: The UK/LA festival, announced with fanfare in March and scheduled for next February and March, has run into some trouble with its booking of the National Theatre of Great Britain. A labor dispute in England has temporarily put the theater's touring plans on hold. But UCLA, owner of the Doolittle Theatre, is still holding open the dates of March 15 through May 1, in case the National Theatre booking comes through.

Meanwhile, L.A. Theatre Works has joined the UK/LA festivities, courtesy of a $20,000 grant from the Fund for New American Plays, a joint project of American Express, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

The money will help underwrite a production of "The Grace of Mary Traverse," by Timberlake Wertenbaker, an American who lives in England. The play is set in 18th-Century England.

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