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Bit Parts - Northern Lights

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If a big bomb had dropped on Toronto this past weekend, the New York theatrical community would have been very much the poorer. The powers that be headed north to attend the opening of the Livent musical "Ragtime" on Dec. 8, and many of them also caught a performance of the the Mirvishes' "Jane Eyre" tuner (which had opened the previous week).

Among those spotted at the Livent show were Bernard Gersten, Rocco Landesman, James Nederlander, Jr., Walter Bobbie, Mike Ockrent, Susan Stroman, and Tommy Tune.

L! V! C! Moves West

Terrence McNally's "Love! Valour! Compassion!" opened in Los Angeles at the Geffen Playhouse (formerly the Westwood Playhouse) on Wed., Dec. 11. Jokes about people like Michael J. Fox and Faye Dunaway got big laughs, but a reference to Comden and Green fell as flat as a pancake. (Wonder why? They wrote movies!)

The L.A. production, originally scheduled to run through Jan. 5, has been extended through Jan. 22 due to popular demand. Mario Cantone, who succeeded Nathan Lane in the role of Buzz Hauser in New York, heads the cast. Also featured are Randy Becker, who created the role of Ramon Fornos at Manhattan Theatre Club and later played it on Broadway; and Mitchell Anderson from the TV series "Party of Five" as the blind boy, Bobby Brahms. Richard Bekins, William Bumiller, T. Scott Cunningham, and Ian Ogilvy round out the excellent cast. Joe Mantello directed, as he did on and Off-Broadway.

Miss Andrews Regrets

Advertisements recently appeared in Newsday and several other suburban New York newspapers listing those performances of "Victor/Victoria" through December at which Julie Andrews is scheduled to perform the title role, and those which will feature standby Ann Runolfsson. Andrews, who continues to be plagued by ill health and has missed a number of performances in recent weeks and months, will be out of "V/V" on Dec. 22, 26, and 29, and will then be spelled in the show by Liza Minnelli for four weeks (beginning Jan. 7).

The Andrews/Runolfsson schedule did not appear in any of the three major New York City newspapers. Peter Cromarty, the show's publicist, said: "We felt that the bulk of people going to see the show at this stage of the game are from the suburbs and the Tri-State area, rather than from Manhattan."

In a related development, it's been reported that composer Cy Coleman is composing two new songs for Minnelli to sing in "V/V," and that a number of the show's dances are being revamped by the show's original choreographer, Rob Marshall, to better suit the talents of the show's new star. Speculation that these revisions indicate Minnelli may eventually take over the role for good run counter to a previous statement by Minnelli that she would not consider replacing Andrews on anything other than a limited basis.

Missing "Mattress"

The Mon., Dec. 9, preview performance of "Once Upon a Mattress," set to open at the Broadhurst Theatre on Dec. 19, was abruptly canceled. A spokesman for the show categorically denied rumors of a last-minute change in the show's creative team, saying instead that "The producers and the director decided to use the time to incorporate additional staging." Sarah Jessica Parker stars in the revival of the Mary Rodgers-Marshall Barer musical as Princess Winnifred (or "Fred," to her friends).

Idol Thoughts

Ryan Idol is the latest star of gay pornographic films to step into the central role of Ronnie Larsen's "Making Porn" at the Actors' Playhouse in Greenwich Village--for eight weeks only, beginning Dec. 17.

Idol is stepping into the role of Jack Hawk, a straight actor reluctantly turned gay porn icon, previously played by Rex Chandler and later by Johnny Hanson. "With these porn stars, you never know for sure how they're gonna be until opening night," said producer Caryn Horwitz. "But Ryan's been terrific in rehearsals."

--Michael Po

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