Daily News from New York, New York on April 4, 1985 · 143
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Daily News from New York, New York · 143

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Thursday, April 4, 1985
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s ; citjf-Yor- clean start ron yathnoEise By JOHN MELIA In March 1979, the city Parks Department closed the rundown Asser Levy Bathhouse on E. 23d St. "indefinitely" after the boiler system for its indoor pool ruptured. It may open again one day. Sooner than later or maybe the reverse. Prior to its closing, the baths had become the center of a minor scandal because while the pool remained unheated and unused for .several months, the Parks Department had a staff of eight there on duty every day. At the time, Mayor Koch said, "Polar bears have got to get their own oceans. If, for whatever reasons, we are not able to provide a temperature fit for normal people to swim, we won't keep the pool open." WHICH IS exactly what happened and that "indefinitely" continues to this day. Now, Community Board 6 will get the $5 million to $6 million from the city it needs to rehabilitate the landmark baths. At present, the only part of the Asser Levy complex that remains open is the outdoor pool in the summer. The only problem facing Board . 6 is when it will get the money, not if it will get the money. According to Gary" Papush, chairman of the Board's Parks Committee, the city wants to include the money in its 1987 fiscal budget while Board 6 wants the money in this year's fiscal budget "We feel the money should be moved to this year's budget because the work is ready to proceed," Papush said. HE SAID THE architect's plans for the building are in the final stages and that the board, which will oversee the project, is ready to move. Papush said another problem with postponing the funding until next year is that it might conflict with planned renovations to the public pool on E. 54th St Those renovations are planned for 1933. "These are the only two public pools on the East Side and they might be closed at the same time." Board 6 wants to avoid this. Several members of Board 6 testified at Board of Estimate hearings at City Hall, asking that the money for the Asser Levy rehabilitation be included in this year's budget "Well know at the end of the month whether we're going to get the money this year," Papush said. er Works And Lucille Lorte r he wins praise role fi-Sr ray By KATHY LARKIN Two years ago, the Musical Theater Works was a dream headquartered in a gutted building at 133 Second Ave. on St. Mark's Place. It had a planning board of three. One of them, photographer Rita Katz, recalls calling producer Bernie Jacobs of the Shuberts and pleading for 74 seats to fill the Katz: "The Royale was being demolished, so he gave us wonderful red seats that theatergoers just nights before had paid $50 a ticket to sit in." Others pitched in. Tony Walton designed the theater, Four Star provided lighting; theater peo. pie came to paint and hammer, hang klieg lights and install sound systems. Two months after the lease was signed, the Musical - Theater Works opened: a place where beginning composers, lyricists and librettists could experiment, show their work to the public and win the support of professionals. Today, MTW has a $250,000 budget Current memberships of $100 include tickets to four major musicals (the legendary George Abbott is directing one), 10 stage readings and a lecture series starring such professionals as lyricist Fred Ebb, George Hearn, composer Jerry Herman and more. The other night, Hearn (with fiance Leslie Simons) and Herman joined chairman Marisa Bere- iiliHiiiiii 'Hiiiiii teBWl"jttwlii v -t . f - - .- i " X . fr " .. .. .,"..( Bfythe Danner (I.) and chairman Marisa Berenson st fund-raiser for Musical Theater Works. nson and Blythe Danner, Sheldon Harnick, Charles Strouse, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Jacques Fink, Jo- . seph Cullman, Frances Dougherty and Del Tenney at a fund-raising gala Chinese buffet and dance in the Dish of Salt The music was 1940s-style Forrest Perrin, and the mood was upbeat In two years, Musical Theatee Works has come a long, long way. Marisa Berenson, who admitted she'd love to try out her singing and dancing lessons onstage, " summed it up this way: "It's wonderful to have a New York space where directors and actors and dancers get a chance to work and hopefully go onto to bigger and better things." THE WORLD OF theater turned out the other night to salute the Queen of Off-Broadway, Lucille Lortel, jamming her tiny theater at 121 Christopher St for a star-spangled show and celebrating afterward at a Players Club gala benefiting the Actors Fund. For New York-born Lortel, actress turned Dioneering producer, the evening was a double-bill and bringing her the first annual Lee Strasberg Lifetime Theater Achievement Award presented by James Earl Jones. To accommodate the overflow crowd, which included Daily News publisher James Hoge and his wife, Sharon, Betsy and Walter Cronkite, Anna Strasberg, playwright Sidney Kingsley, Glenda Jackson, Marsha Mason, Joseph Papp, Morton Gottlieb, Earl Blackwell, Anne Jackson, Eli Wal-lach, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Anne Baxter, Fritz Weaver and more, extra chairs were packed into the back of the theater. Onstage, following Actors Fund of America President Nedda Harrigan Logan the lineup included "Forbidden Broadway," Shirley Knight and daughter Kate Hopkins, George Rose, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Jo Sullivan, Vivian Blaine, June Havoc, George Irving, John Cullum and Jerry Orbach, who returned to sing "Mack the Knife" on the same stage where "The Three Penny Opera" ran for seven years. The SRO salute was easy to explain. So many people owe so much to Lortel. She gave directors Sidney Lumet and Peter Bogdonovich, actors Peter Falk and Eva Marie Saint their first theater jobs. She hired Kim Hunter and Zero Mostel, who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. IT WAS LORTEL, restless after a 15-year retirement from the stage into marriage with millionaire manfacturer Louis Schweitzer who revamped the stables on her l&acre Westport, Conn., estate, turning it into the White Barn, a 155 seat summer theater that is launching its 33th season with eight new productions. The other night Anne Baxter. t who popped in between "Hotel" chores and writing - tee second y oluiw ot hr one special evening at the Wnite Bam. "She did a wonderful thing for me once I was readying a one-woman show, a difficult show with 200 slides, and I wanted to try it out I called and asked if I could borrow the White Barn. She gave it to me. For one night With her lighting crew and everything. That is typical of Lucille She's a miracle worker." With the 299-seat Theater De Lys a 24th anniversary gift from her husband, Lucille Lortel helped establish Off-Broadway as a successful commercial alternative to the Great White Way. And her 20-year "Matinee Series" there produced some unusual firsts: a verse adaptation of Alan Paton's "Cry the Beloved Country," Siobhan McKenna's offbeat protrayal of Hamlet in which she was supported entirely by offstage voices; poetry readings by Richard Burton while he was appearing on Broadway in "Camelot" Explained Lortel. "He had always wanted ta do Dylan . Thomas. I gave him the chance. And I gave other people the chance to do the things they really wanted to do." Along the way, Lucille Lortel co-founded the Shakespeare Festival Theater and Academy in Stratford, Conn.; premiered plays s-ch as Sean 0"Casey's "Red Roses for Me." Lar.gstaa Hughes "Shakespeare in Harlem" and Pajl Z.r.dei's "The Effect of Gamma Rays cn ?.:on-tn-the-M&oa Marigolds'and co-produced at other theaters. For Lcrtel, there have been times of challenge, but never a moment when she regretted her chosen profession. "I just love theater" she ss:d simply. The other .night, theater folk prsvei it was o f

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