Psycho Analysis

As Julia, the talented Lisa Morgan Patrick is not only swallowed up by a thankless part, she's also held captive by a bad wig. As Adrian, Nick Bixby gives a spirited performance, but his character is so shallow that Bixby doesn't register. As for the playwright, I have no idea if he needs a therapist, but -- please -- get him to a dramaturge at once.

Written by Paul Wheeler. Directed by Maria Banda Rodaz. Starring Lisa Morgan Patrick and Nick Bixby. Through August 23. Area Stage Company, 645 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, 305-673-8002.

Stage Whispers
By complete chance -- thanks to a choice freelance assignment from a cable-TV magazine -- two weeks ago I found myself talking to actor Michael York, who coughed up an obscure piece of theater history. York starred in the 1972 movie version of Cabaret, of course, but said he hasn't yet seen the heralded stage version now on Broadway with Natasha Richardson. That's partially because he's spent most of 1998 working on film and TV projects, including a version of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court for Disney. York plays the fabled British king; the time-traveling Yank is played by -- betcha can't guess -- Whoopi Goldberg.

Long before he played the king who liberated Excalibur, York was one of the screen's most charming swashbucklers. Recalling how he came to star in Richard Lester's 1974 film version of The Three Musketeers, the actor said: "Dick Lester called me, but I had just signed to do Outcry [a Tennessee Williams play]. I had the opportunity to do work with Tennessee Williams. Lester was understanding enough to say, 'Stay in touch.' What happened was, the play didn't run, and I did the film. We later became friends. Williams came to Spain [where The Three Musketeers was filmed] and stayed in our house."

Never heard of Outcry? It's a late Williams work, written in 1973. York said he's fond of the playwright's later dramas, which were dismissed by critics while Williams was alive. But many of them are now getting renewed respect, particularly on the British stage. (Vanessa Redgrave, whose mid-'80s appearance in Orpheus Descending in London brought the play to New York, also recently revived the 1938 work Not About Nightingales.) Of Williams' late-career work, York insisted, "The critics counted him out, but he refused to play dead."

Hello and goodbye to the Hollywood Playhouse, which is undergoing an identity change. The 55-year-old institution, the oldest theater in South Florida, recently named a new executive board, headed by newly installed President Bruce Yoskin. Andy Rogow is the new artistic director; Pamela Pellerin is the new managing director. All this means that long-reigning Executive Director Marianne Mavrides has retired after 35 years at the helm in order to "travel, pursue other interests, and focus my theatrical activities on stage or as a director."

Louis Silvers, vice president of the new Playhouse, says that the mission of the theater is changing along with its staff. The goal is to attract younger audiences while holding on to the 2000 subscribers, many of whom have been with the Playhouse since its early days as a community theater. In addition to bringing in an improv group for late-night shows on Saturdays in September, the Playhouse will, for the first time, hire Equity actors for its upcoming season. Look for cappuccino to be available in a new on-site cafe. If that's not progress, I don't know what is.

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