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Jockeying for Tony entree.

NEW YORK The big day is still months off, but a variety of shows -- and even a venue -- are jockeying for special consideration by the Tony rulemakers. The 24-member Tony administration committee will meet Feb. 25 to discuss the cases.

"The Scarlet Pimpernel's" new producers are making headlines by suggesting that the production, which bowed last season and was nominated for best musical, among other awards, should be eligible for Tonys again.

The musical was revamped this season by new owner Radio City Entertainment, and has a new director and choreographer, Robert Longbottom, and a pair of new stars.

"We're in unchartered water here," says "Pimpernel" exec producer Tim Hawkins, a senior veepee at Radio City Entertainment. "This is a unique situation, we're just trying to hopefully get a unique solution."

Meanwhile, Adventures in Motion Pictures and Cameron Mackintosh are seeking consideration in various categories for "Swan Lake," the Matthew Bourne version of the ballet that closed last month at the Neil Simon.

They've sent a petition to the committee asking for consideration for design awards, choreography and certain performers, and for a possible special Tony for the production. (A special Tony was given in 1994 to "Fool Moon," so that scenario is not unthinkable.)

"They're certainly not lobbying for best musical," said one production insider.

Mackintosh could not be reached, and "Swan Lake" G.M. Alan Wasser declined to outline specifics of his letter to the committee.

There's also some question whether the producers of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" will seek to have that 30-year-old show considered a new musical, since this is the first production of it to open on Broadway.

Even Off Broadway producers are getting into the act.

"Wit's" producers are seeking Tony eligibility for their play, which ended up at Off Broadway's 499-seat Union Square Theater after a hoped-for Broadway berth at the Helen Hayes was nixed by its owner. Located in the rather vaguely designated Broadway district, both the Helen Hayes and the Roundabout Theater's Stage Right also have 499 seats, but are considered Broadway houses.

"Large theaters Off Broadway are doing comparable work to Broadway," said Daryl Roth, a co-producer of "Wit." She called the matter "one of ZIP code" and said that since "Wit" is one of the few new American works in a field of Brits, it deserves a chance.

Of the various issues, one administration committee member would only say, "It's just too early to tell. The committee will consider any pending request before it. One can't comment on something that hasn't been discussed yet."

Seeking permanent disability

The venue in question is the Kit Kat Klub at the Henry Miller Theater, which got a taste of Tony eligibility last season with the since-transferred (and Tony'd) hit revival of "Cabaret." The theater's lease holders are planning to seek permanent Tony eligibility, although they will not likely be eligible this season.

"We would like to maintain the position we had," says theater spokeswoman Danielle Billera. "What was good for `Cabaret' is good for any other production that wishes to come to the Henry Miller."

Interested only in a Broadway berth, the producers of "The Male Intellect," a new play written by Bob Dubec and produced by Metropolitan Entertainment, are negotiating to move into the Kit Kat Klub, according to officials at both orgs.

Problem is, aside from the eligibility issues, it's not yet clear whether the Kit Kat Klub is even legally able to make such an agreement with Metropolitan. The Durst Organization, a Gotham firm controlled by real estate mogul Douglas Durst, is the managing partner of the Henry Miller. Durst had approved the assignment of a lease to Kit Kat Klub CEO Matt Johnson after the original leaseholder, a now defunct club called Shout, went belly-up. But in December, with two years left on the reassigned lease, he changed his mind.

"We've canceled their lease, so I don't see how they could make a deal," said Durst. "There are provisions that allow us to cancel if we want to do our own productions."

The case is in landlord-tenant court, with a decision expected in a couple of weeks. Durst said he is "in discussion with a number a number of groups for theatrical productions" and that they'd "probably be experimental theater."

Durst's daughter Anita Durst is a noted experimental theater producer and an actor with her own theatrical company, Chasama. His cousin, producer Peter Askin, is one of the original Off Off Broadway producers of now Off Broadway phenom "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
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Title Annotation:Theater productions vie for Tony awards
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 15, 1999
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