Early RSVP

Wedding bells are ringing for Rudnick and his glittery cast

They did not hire Paul Rudnick to write the screenplay for World Trade Center. If you don't know why that statement is funny, you obviously haven't been going to the right theaters in recent years. Rudnick is a playwright (and occasional screenwriter) whose scripts have caused so much laughter in New York audiences that the mere mention of an upcoming Rudnick work induces the same anticipatory salivation in theatergoers that Pavlov's bell provoked in his lab dogs. The author of Jeffrey, I Hate Hamlet, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Valhalla, and the immortal one-act Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Beach, as well as such fondly remembered movies as In & Out, Rudnick has long since proven his credentials in the laff-o-meter department. Devoid of shame and apparently the proud owner of a golden goose that supplies fresh epigrams every morning, he can put a comic spin on any topic from AIDS benefits to transgressive artists, or any cultural icon from the Old Testament to Mad King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein.

In his latest work, Regrets Only, which blooms at Manhattan Theatre Club's Off-Broadway space October 19, Rudnick's nominal topic is a Park Avenue wedding. Among those involved are a power-driven attorney, his "deliriously social" wife, the high-powered fashion designer who's their best friend, and a variety of other optimally Rudnickian targets, up to and including the president of the United States. No doubt Rudnick will have something devastating to say about matters weightier than engagement party etiquette and bridesmaids' corsages.

Directed by longtime Rudnick collaborator Christopher Ashley, Regrets Only has sent off additional good vibes by attracting the kind of class-act comic performers for whom Rudnick's material often acts like a magnet. Elegant epigram spinner Christine Baranski heads the company, waving alongside her such star-power figures as George Grizzard, David Rasche, and Britain's Siân Phillips. But it would hardly be a Rudnick cast without somebody whose outrageous presence could put a rumple in all that tuxedoed, begowned chic, and this one boasts an ICBM-level explosive in the form of Jackie Hoffman, downtown's favorite monument to anti-chic, from whom one wisecrack could turn a society wedding into a trailer park free-for-all faster than you can say "thrift shop."

Good vibrations: Paul Rudnick
photo: Nicholas Burnham
Good vibrations: Paul Rudnick


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    King Lear
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    The revolutionary costume comes to Broadway! More important, it comes with brilliant Christine Ebersole wearing it, heading the cast of last spring's improbable, preposterously entertaining Off-Broadway musical version of a documentary film about two aging, dotty society dames. Mary Louise Wilson and John McMartin add their star luster to Ebersole's for this risky venture, staged by Michael Greif. Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 W 48th, 212-239-6200 Feingold

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    Among the highlights of a theater-heavy BAM season, look for: Impermanence, a major new work by multitask-meister Meredith Monk (Nov 1–5); Ibsen's The Wild Duck in a staging by Norway's Nationaltheatret (Oct 25–29); and a Twelfth Night by English whiz Declan Donnellan performed by an all-male Russian cast (Nov 7–12). Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave & 651 Fulton St, 718-636-4100, bam.org Feingold

    The Tooth of Crime
    Previews begin Oct 3, opens Oct 5, through Oct 22

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