With rehearsals and opening night for “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” behind them, Broadway producers Bonnie Comley and Stewart Lane threw a pool party for cast, crew and Bay Street Theater honchos at the Lanes’ East Hampton estate. Since all the world’s a stage for Bonnie and Stew, giant beach balls up to 5 feet high spilled out of the pool into the yard where carnival games, cotton candy, and an ice cream truck kept young and young at heart amused. Inside, a caricature artist and psychic gave their takes on those seated before them.
Bay Street Theater Executive Director Tracy Mitchell didn’t need a psychic to be excited about the year ahead. Scott Schwartz (“Bat Boy,” “Golda’s Balcony,” “tick, tick…Boom!”), Stephen Schwartz’ son, had just been named Artistic Director. And he was already talking to Betty Buckley about starring in “Sweeney Todd.”
Mitchell expects Schwartz to serve as a counterweight to the greying of Broadway. “He has a view that’s connected to what younger people are listening to and watching,” she said. “And the connections to make those works possible.”
The bar has been set pretty high with Broadway stars Peter Scolari, Jackie Hoffman, and John Schuck together in “Forum.” Scolari had just starred opposite Tom Hanks in “Lucky Guy,” and has one more episode of HBO’s “Girls” to shoot before he can take a break. Not only is “Forum” his most physically demanding role in ten years (he starred in “Hairspray” with Hoffman in 2004), he said, but as part of an intense ensemble effort, burying Hanks on stage was like losing a best friend. He’d come home every night devastated.
As for Dunham, he said, “She’s the greatest young talent as a writer/auteur in the business right now. I tell you she will create feature films and they will be innovative, touching and perhaps dark. I can’t say enough about her.”
Hoffman (“Xanadu,” “The Addams Family”) was ready to enjoy the Hamptons now that those long rehearsal days were behind her, even with eight shows a week. “Next, I’m going to be performing on board an Atlantis Gay cruise in September,” she said. “So you gays come out!” She’s reprise her holiday show “A Chanukah Carol,” at Joe’s Pub.
John Schuck (Hermann Munster and an iconic Daddy Warbucks, among so many roles) and his wife were also looking forward to exploring the Hamptons. They’ve lived in Venice, California, his wife, painter Harrison Houle told us, since the days when you needed to live behind bars to be safe.
OK to all that but, really, we asked Hoffman, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, “Didn’t Stew steal the show?”
“He’s the only one who gets exit applause, the bastard,” she replied. “And we’re all backstage fuming.”