A lighter White Way as three biggies go dark


NEW YORK -- The summer heat is in, and three more major Broadway enticements are out, having played their final performances Sunday: Peter Morgan's "Frost/Nixon" at the Jacobs (but soon to be a film with its same two shining lights, Tony winner Frank Langella and shoulda-been-Tonyed Michael Sheen); Terrence McNally's "Deuce" at the Music Box, which was enormously enriched by the two stars at its center, Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes; and John Van Druten's 67-year-old comedy "Old Acquaintance," given a new spin by Margaret Colin and Harriet Harris in roles Bette Davis and her archenemy Miriam Hopkins played so memorably on film. ... I caught "Deuce" again Wednesday for the first time since opening night in May, when it began its 16-week limited run. No question that these were pros at work: It became much tighter, brighter, smoother. The audience also ate it up, with prolonged applause at the end that one usually hears only after an opening night, not four days before the closing. ... After a big postclosing party Sunday, Lansbury headed off to her home in Ireland for three weeks of well-deserved rest. She's due back in New York for a Nov. 14 salute at the Paley Center for Media (originally the Museum of Broadcasting, then the Museum of Television and Radio and given its latest name as of June 7). It's guaranteed to be a festive night, with a Lansbury interview, interspersed with clips from that amazing career of hers, which covers all the bases: film, television, theater, even animation -- leave us not forget Mrs. Potts in "Beauty and the Beast." ... An interesting blast from the past: If you ever wondered how much life has really changed over the past 60 years, I hereby quote from an article that ran in August 1947 in the Milwaukee Journal: "Ticket prices at movie theaters in Milwaukee continue to grow and as compared to the rest of the nation; our city is above the middle. Milwaukee first-run houses now get a top of 85 cents. Los Angeles gets $1, Toronto 90 cents, Chicago 95 cents, San Francisco 85 cents. In the Times Square section of New York, there are 16 movie or movie-stage houses which get from $1.20 to $1.50 a ticket. Grumbling over these escalating prices have been heard everywhere. Below the Milwaukee scale, we find Baltimore and Atlanta, 60 cents; Kansas City and Omaha, 65 cents; Cincinnati, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, 70 cents; Denver, 74 cents; Boston at 75 cents except when a stage show hoists the fee to $1.10. The good news is that the popular pictures all eventually reach the 25-cent houses, and it's a pleasure to report that the 10-cent house has not passed out of existence. There are several movie theaters in Milwaukee and other cities, except perhaps New York, which have their 'family nights': admission one dime, plus 2 cents tax." End of article. ... It's going to be Mary Shelley vs. Mary Shelley on the local legit boards this year. On Nov. 1, a new musical "Frankenstein" will open off-Broadway at the 37 Arts, starring Hunter Foster, a Tony nominee for the 2003-04 "Little Shop of Horrors" who also spent considerable time on Broadway in Mel Brooks' "The Producers." And it's only seven days later that Brooks' bigger, musicalized "Young Frankenstein," which kids the Shelley novel (and carries a much higher ticket price), opens at the Hilton Theatre.

Robert Osborne is the primetime host and anchor of the Turner Classic Movies television network.