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'Fools' rushes out of lineup

September 12, 2004|Don Shirley

Why did "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" fall apart?

The new musical, about thrice-married doo-wop singer Frankie Lymon, sounded promising. Lymon's story had already been turned into a 1998 movie with the same title. Tina Andrews was going to adapt her screenplay for the stage with L.A. playwright Stanley Bennett Clay. Tony-winning choreographer Wayne Cilento would direct. In May, Pasadena Playhouse announced that "Fools" would fill its Oct. 15 to Nov. 14 slot.

But new musicals are expensive, and Pasadena couldn't afford the project without extra "enhancement" money from eventual Broadway backers, artistic director Sheldon Epps says.

Writer Andrews took on the task of rounding up about half of a budget that she estimated at $750,000. But "the people on our end just did not come through," she says, referring to a couple of would-be investors.

Raising enhancement money is especially risky "if you don't know when you're coming to Broadway," Andrews says. In this case, she hoped that some of the Broadway money would be raised after potential investors saw the show in Pasadena.

At any rate, she says, it would have been difficult for her to adhere to the announced schedule for another reason as well -- her mother is seriously ill. However, she hopes the show will get back on its feet next spring.

Epps started looking for a substitute for the "Fools" time slot in July and found "Side by Side by Sondheim" at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura. Because it was already mounted and is now playing at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the show will cost Pasadena no more than an average nonmusical production, Epps says.

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Don Shirley

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