Times Staff Writer

Playwright Peter Parnell's "Romance Language," the first co-production by the Old Globe Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum, will not be seen this season in San Diego, the Globe announced Monday.

Parnell's play was to have traveled to the Globe after it closed at the Taper on Sunday. Instead, it will be postponed until next winter. The Globe will shift Jim Wann's musical, "Pump Boys and Dinettes," originally scheduled for its small Cassius Carter Centre Stage, to the mainstage.

William Mastrosimone's "Cat's-Paw" will be imported from the Seattle Repertory Theatre to go into the Carter Stage's time slot originally scheduled for "Pump Boys." The "Cat's-Paw" production will be staged by Seattle Rep artistic director Daniel Sullivan and will include the original Seattle cast.

Globe artistic director Jack O'Brien decided on the substitution because "Romance Language" is "in major transition. I've been in consultation with Peter Parnell and the Taper," O'Brien said, "and at this moment, the play, especially the first act, needs more work. (It) needs time to breathe."

Mark Taper artistic director Gordon Davidson, who is in Paris, could not be reached for comment. But the Taper's general manager, Stephen J. Albert, agreed with O'Brien, saying the play required more time to grow.

"Both theaters are committed to the play. The kind of work needed is more than the two-week transition (to the Globe) would allow," Albert acknowledged. He indicated that the transition period would have been primarily for the purpose of technical changes required for adjusting sets, lighting and staging for the new stage rather than for a major rewrite.

In giving his reasons for postponing "Romance Language" in its Taper incarnation, O'Brien said the play had lost some of the punch it had in its earlier production at Playwright's Horizons in New York. He also said that in four years the playwright's conception of the play had drastically changed.

"In New York it was saucy, irreverent and (somewhat) non-sequitur," O'Brien said. In the Los Angeles production, the play closed on an almost patriotic note.

O'Brien and Albert denied that the Globe-Taper collaboration had fallen apart because of dissension. Albert termed the joint production as "very successful. We're exploring a number of possibilities for future joint productions . . . including some possibilities for next year. The projects themselves are as important a consideration as the desire to collaborate."

He would not specify what plays might be produced together in the future.

Albert and O'Brien said that the Taper cast members, who would have accompanied the play to San Diego, will be given first option on their roles when the play is staged next season at the Globe by O'Brien.

(It was staged at the Taper by its New York director, Sheldon Larry, but O'Brien oversaw the last few rehearsals prior to its opening. Larry reportedly wanted more distance from the project.)

In the larger Mark Taper Forum, O'Brien said the script required a frame to help the audience understand what it is about.

"It's the framework that needs reworking," he said of the fantasy-like play about American literary figures on a mythical journey across the Wild West. "Up close at Playwright's Horizon, the play assaulted the audience and didn't need a framework.

"This way everyone wins," O'Brien said. "Peter (Parnell) has more time. Rather than bailing out or gritting our teeth and going ahead with it, we can give our subscribers a production (now) that is hot as a firecracker."

O'Brien called the replacement, "Cat's-Paw," a psychological thriller about an urban guerrilla who sets off a firebomb in Washington, D.C. The terrorist takes a minor Environmental Protection Agency official hostage and allows a female television reporter to interview him.

"Mastrosimone is brilliant at these intense, up-close confrontations," O'Brien said. "Cats-Paw" author Mastrosimone has written such plays as "Extremities" and "The Woolgatherer." "Cats-Paw" closes a two-week world premiere run at Seattle this weekend before moving to San Diego.

"Pump Boys and Dinettes," a rockabilly musical about good ol' boys in Frog Level, S. C., will run March 27 through May 4 on the Globe stage. "Cats-Paw" will play March 22 through May 4 at the Carter.

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