The hottest ticket for theater lovers is 86-year-old Elaine May

The hottest ticket for theater lovers is 86-year-old Elaine May

Elaine May in 1961Getty Photos

Vacationers have King Kong, Daniel Radcliffe and a present about Cher this season.

Theater buffs and lovers of basic comedy have one thing even higher: Elaine May’s first Broadway look in over 50 years.

May, who famously teamed with Mike Nichols for “An Night with Mike Nichols and Elaine May” on Broadway in 1960, is starring in a revival of Kenneth Lonergan’s “The Waverly Gallery.” Previews start Tuesday on the John Golden Theater.

May, 86, performs Gladys Inexperienced, the proprietor of a Greenwich Village artwork gallery who’s making an attempt to carry on to her enterprise regardless of the relentless march of Alzheimer’s.

Eileen Heckart obtained rave critiques within the position within the authentic 2000 manufacturing. Lonergan, who’s been mates with May for a number of years, all the time thought she, too, could be an excellent match for Gladys.

“It’s been an actual deal with watching Elaine work,” he tells me. “For somebody who is so good at improv, she is extraordinarily methodical. She desires to know the way and why she is to get from the door to the desk. And since she’s an important author and director, she understands scenes extraordinarily effectively.”

May avoids publicity and hasn’t granted an interview in years. However in non-public settings she’s enjoyable and appealingly eccentric. She all the time has a pile of drugstore eyeglasses on the prepared, with the value tags nonetheless on them. I as soon as sat throughout from her at lunch and he or she needed to attempt on three pairs earlier than she acknowledged me.

Matthew Broderick, who starred in May’s play “Taller Than a Dwarf,” as soon as supplied to take the tag off a pair she was sporting.

“I like to depart it on,” May mentioned. “That’s how I do know which of them are mine.”

Broderick and Lonergan have been shut mates since childhood, when Broderick’s mom launched them to Nichols and May. She gave them the “Nichols and May Look at Medical doctors” comedy album, which they performed time and again till they knew sketches akin to “Calling Dr. Marx” by coronary heart.

Lonergan turned a fan of May’s 1971 movie “A New Leaf,” which she wrote, directed and starred in as an eccentric heiress unaware that her new husband, Walter Matthau, is plotting to bump her off.

“I feel ‘A New Leaf’ is an ideal film,” he says.

He’s additionally a fan of one other basic: “The Heartbreak Child,” which Neil Simon wrote and May directed. Charles Grodin performs a newlywed who desires to ditch his gawky bride (May’s daughter, Jeannie Berlin) for the gorgeous and WASPy Cybill Shepherd.

“That film strikes the proper steadiness between scenes of appalling conduct and nice comedy,” Lonergan says.

May had a famously rocky profession in Hollywood. As a author, she had a hand in hits akin to “Reds,” “Tootsie” and “The Birdcage,” however her résumé additionally contains 1987’s spectacular bomb, “Ishtar.”

And she or he by no means ducked a battle with the studios.

She stole the print of her film “Mikey and Nicky” from Paramount, hid it in her storage and refused to present it up till the studio agreed to launch her minimize.

Lonergan had his personal bruising battle with a studio over his film “Margaret.” He says May helped him navigate that troublesome time.

“I don’t wish to go into all of the political struggles,” he says, “however she’s had a whole lot of expertise with these type of conflicts. She gave me canny and sensible recommendation. She was — and is — an excellent pal.”

You could not have heard of Katharine Mehrling, however she’s essentially the most well-known musical theater star in “all of Berlin,” to cite the emcee of the Package Kat Klub, having starred there in “Cabaret,” “Evita,” “Hair” and extra.

She’s making her first look in New York Saturday night time at Joe’s Pub. Along with showtunes, she’ll carry out Édith Piaf songs — in French, English and German.

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome to New York, Ms. Mehrling!

You may hear Michael Riedel weekdays on “Len Berman and Michael Riedel within the Morning” on WOR radio 710.

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