Puttin' on 'The Ritz' and preppin' others
This week's sole Broadway opening is Terrence McNally's "The Ritz," which couldn't be placed more properly than at Studio 54, where it debuts Thursday. Kevin Chamberlain and Rosie Perez star in the roles created by Jack Weston and Rita Moreno in the 1975 original, which ran for 398 performances at the Longacre Theatre and became a 1976 feature film directed by Richard Lester and starring Weston, Moreno and two others from the original cast: Jerry Stiller and F. Murray Abraham (long before his Oscar-winning turn in "Amadeus"). … Also on Thursday are prevues for Mel Brooks' musicalized "Young Frankenstein" at the Hilton New York. This is a straighter musical take on the Mary Shelley novel about the guy with the logs in his neck than the other that is starting its prevues one day earlier at the 37 Arts theater complex. What "Young Frankenstein" and "Frankenstein" have in common, besides Shelley and songs, are Fosters: Sutton Foster, a Tony winner for 2002's "Thoroughly Modern Millie," co-stars in the Brooks spoof; her brother, Hunter Foster, a Tony nominee for 2004's "Little Shop of Horrors," plays the title role in the off-Broadway adaptation. … Also on Wednesday, prevues begin on "Die, Mommie, Die!" written by and starring Charles Busch at the off-Broadway New World Stages; the production is directed by Carl Andress and scheduled for an Oct. 21 opening. … On Friday, Kevin Kline's revival of "Cyrano de Bergerac" begins the prevue process at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with Jennifer Garner and Daniel Sunjata. This is a new adaptation by Anthony Burgess ("A Clockwork Orange") of the Edmond Rostand classic. The most recent Broadway Cyrano was played by Derek Jacobi back in 1984; before him, there was a long parade including Richard Mansfield (1898) and Jose Ferrer (1946). Still, no one has quite matched the record of Walter Hampden. He played the lovesick, swashbuckling Cyrano in five different Broadway productions (1923, '26, '28, '32 and '36). Hampden is someone you'll know if you're familiar with the movie "All About Eve." In that Oscar-winning 1950 film, he plays the pontificating old actor at the beginning and end of the movie who ultimately hands a Sarah Siddons Award to Anne Baxter as the movie's ambitious title character. In his younger days, Hampden owned Cyrano, much as Zorba belonged to Anthony Quinn, Gypsy to Ethel Merman, Mame to Angela Lansbury — until, of course, others put their fingerprints on them. That's showbiz. … Talk about two people who put their stamp on roles: Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin in "Evita" in 1979. The good news is that the two of them are joining forces again for an eight-performance run Oct. 23-29 at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia in a show titled "An Evening With Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin." It's being choreographed by Ann Reinking. It's also something that ultimately might reach the Broadway environs, though it might have to wait. There's now a good possibility that LuPone will be doing a Broadway run of "Gypsy," as it was a notable success in a limited engagement at Town Hall as part of the "Summer Encores!" series. … There will be a memorial for ABC's Joel Siegel at 3 p.m. Monday at the New Amsterdam Theatre. During the tribute, there will be a special announcement about the newly created Joel Siegel Scholarship at the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television, something J.S. would have loved.