Jul 6, 2006

Jayson With a Y

I didn't know Jayson Raitt all that well when he worked at the Pasadena Playhouse, but in a fortuitous coicidence, he relocated to the Big Apple about a month after I did. Since then he's been a frequent theatergoing plus-one, particularly for musicals, and it was he who introduced me to the clubby after-show tradition of Angus. Among his many gigs since he's arrived has been as a producer for the National Alliance of Musical Theatre's new musicals, and as impresario of a new cabaret space at the old Gotham comedy club on 22nd St. It's called The Metropolitan Room and it's kicking off in earnest on July 19 with a show by Valarie Pettiford, a Tony nominee for Fosse. I recall her definitive turn as Julie in Harold Prince's Show Boat at the Ahmanson, though I didn't make it back to L.A. to see her in the Blank's Wild Party last year. She'll appear July 19 at the Metropolitan. Raitt—who was friendly with but not related to his famous singing namesake, John—plans to make the Metropolitan a home for Broadway singers and triple threats to do intimate cabaret in New York.

Raitt also has some other interesting things in the works: the musical Grave White Way and an intriguing "black Sondheim" revue called Mixed Company, conceived and headlined by the formidable Billy Porter, which has its first public workshop at the end of month at New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theatre, a popular out-of-town tryout venue located at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. Rumor has it that Porter was very nearly cast as the Witch in the recent Into the Woods revival, and that his take on some of Sondheim's material is pretty profoundly perception-changing. For my part, I recall his silky rendition of "Alfie" at a benefit Megan Mullally did at the Evidence Room some years ago.

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