Undercover Lover, a Lost Musical by Weinstein and O'Hara, Runs in NY Nov. 3-Dec. 4

By: Oct. 11, 2005
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Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble, one of NYC's longest-running experimental theatres, will present Undercover Lover, the recently rediscovered unproduced 1961 musical comedy with book and lyrics by acclaimed playwright/lyricist Arnold Weinstein in collaboration with legendary poet Frank O'Hara. With music by John Gruen, orchestrations by William Bolcom and direction by Obie-Award winner Barbara Vann, the show will run from November 3rd-December 4th with an opening scheduled for November 11th at The Medicine Show Theatre (549 West 52nd St., 3rd Floor, between 10th and 11th Ave.).

"Part Theatre of the Absurd and part Doris Day movie, Undercover Lover tells the tuneful and frequently hilarious story of Hy Halifax, who's been restlessly married for the last five years to his doting wife Leslie," according to press notes. "Unbeknownst to her, Hy has been secretly having an affair since their wedding day with Myra, who has been patiently waiting for Hy to end his marriage once and for all. But when Leslie falls in love with Hy's military-turned-peacenik buddy Boats and decides to devote her life to activism, Hy suddenly realizes that he can't live without her. Chaos ensues as we follow our threesome from an Air Raid to a Divorce Court to a Spanish restaurant to the Amazon."

Morton Banks, Sarah Engelke, Mark Dempsey, Diana Dunbar, Kirt Harding, Phyllis Sanfiorenzo, Mike Still, Barbara Vann, Monrico Ward, David Weitzer and Andrew York are featured in the cast.  The show features choreography by Ernesta Corvino and Jaime Galindo, musical direction by Sterling Price-McKinney, sets by Knox Martin, and costumes by Uta Bekia.

Undercover Lover was offered in 1961 for 3 performances as part of a summer series at Adelphi University, and then was optioned for Broadway. However, the Broadway production never reached fruition. Arnold Weinstein rediscovered a version of the script last spring and gave it to Vann in hopes of performance. John Gruen luckily had kept the varients of the music and Vann decided to tackle the project as a gift for Weinstein. Due to his death this past September, the production will now be a tribute to his life and work.

Weinstein (1927-2005) was a playwright and librettist who's best known for his collaborations with composer William Bolcom, which has produced the operas A View From The Bridge, McTeague, and A Wedding, and the musical Casino Paradise. Many of Weinstein's other works, such as Dynamite Tonight, Songs from Black Max (written with Bolcom) and Ward 6 (with composer Lukas Haas), have been produced by the Medicine Show over the past 30 years.  O'Hara (1926-1966) was a key member of the New York School of poets and a curator at the Museum Of Modern Art. Medicine Show has performed some of his verse plays including Try! Try! and Amorous Nightmares of Delay.

Composer Gruen was a student of famed composer Virgil Thompson. Heavily involved in avant-garde theatre in the 60s, he Gruen provided music for work at LaMaMa as well as Julie Bovasso's productions of plays by Jean Genet and Michel de Ghelderode. He was the music and art critic for the now-defunct New York Tribune, a cultural writer for the New York Times, and has written 14 books on the arts, including Radiant Baby, a biography of artist Keith Haring which was the basis for the musical of the same name at the Public Theatre in 2003.

Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble was founded in 1970 by Barbara Vann and the late James Barbosa. The company is "dedicated to offering creative alternatives to conventional theatre by creating and presenting works that experiment with language, music, movement, form and ideas. The works are chosen to delight the mind, honor creativity, confound empty convention, encourage active compassion and present the many facets of the American experience within a global community."

The performance schedule is Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 and Sundays at 4:00. Tickets are $15 and are available from Smarttix at (212) 868-4444 or via the web at www.Smarttix.com. For more information, please log onto the company's website at www.MedicineShowTheatre.org.

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