rambling reporter

Broadway rekindles 'Affair' to remember

It'll be the Walter Kerr Theatre where the upcoming "A Catered Affair" — with direction by John Doyle, book by Harvey Fierstein and score by John Bucchino — will begin prevuing March 25, after a run at San Diego's Old Globe in September. That title, by the way, has been slightly altered from what Paddy Chayefsky called his original teleplay, which was "The Catered Affair." That's the same handle MGM used for its 1956 film version with Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Barry Fitzgerald and Debbie Reynolds. But, as Fierstein says: "That title always struck me as wrong. It's much more about 'a' catered affair — one personal wedding party which is the catalyst for everything which follows." Joining Fierstein, Faith Prince, Tom Wopat and Leslie Kritzer in the roles once played by Fitzgerald, Davis, Borgnine and Reynolds will be Matt Cavenaugh, last seen on Broadway in "Grey Gardens" and before that as the lead in 2003's "Urban Cowboy." He'll be playing the role of the bridegroom-to-be, played in the movie by Rod Taylor. As for the Walter Kerr on West 48th, if its walls could talk! Previously the Ritz and opened in 1921, its stage has been stomped on by everyone from Lynn Fontanne in the 1920s to Lauren Bacall in 1999-2000, from a beginner named Bette Davis in 1929 to a show titled "Soon" in 1971, which marked the Broadway debuts of Richard Gere, Peter Allen and Nell Carter (with Barry Bostwick also in the cast). It's also where Parts 1 and 2 of "Angels in America" played in the 1990s, along with playwright Martin McDonagh's "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" and, in 2000, David Auburn's "Proof." … Brian Stokes Mitchell, along with Reba McEntire and Alec Baldwin, helped add to Carnegie Hall's fabled history when they appeared onstage there for a 2005 concert rendition of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1949 "South Pacific." Come Oct. 15, Mitchell will be returning to that same famous hall — the most desired destination of every musician — for his solo debut there. … The Manhattan Theatre Club has announced some interesting offerings that will open before year's end, including Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham in Theresa Rebeck's "Mauritius," opening Oct. 4. at the Biltmore, and Robert Foxworth and Josh Charles heading the cast of Adam Bock's "The Receptionist," which has its world premiere Oct. 30 at the City Center's Stage One. … My niftiest movie surprise of the summer so far: 20th Century Fox's "The Simpsons Movie" — this from someone (am I the only one?) not previously immersed in all things Bart or Homer. It's the first movie since "Best in Show" that I've wanted to immediately sit through a second time. … The biggest summer disappointment so far: Universal Pictures' "The Bourne Ultimatum." I know, I know, the boxoffice has been great (I contributed to it), and Matt Damon is definitely first-class, but the nonstop, jerky, irritating hand-held camera work by Oliver Wood, coupled with the overly frenetic editing by Christopher Rouse (no moment seems to last more than five frames, tops) makes this, in my opinion, the least satisfying, most headache-inducing "Bourne" to date. I had hoped, after Chapters 1 and 2, that this franchise might go on forever. Now I am more than willing for Jason Bourne, like an old soldier, to fade away.