Julie Andrews And Dudley Moore - One More Time He's Ailing, She Can't Sing, But They Promise An Evening To Remember At A Musical Benefit Here.

Posted: November 15, 1999

Together again: two of the stars of 10, the 1979 film that made Ravel's Bolero a bedroom fantasy.

They are old friends, both British-born, the same age (64) - Julie Andrews, whose crystalline voice has charmed millions in such films as Mary Poppins (for which she won an Oscar), The Sound of Music and Victor/Victoria, and Dudley Moore, comedian, classical pianist and composer, an Oscar nominee for his role as a winsome drunk in the 1981 film Arthur.

They will perform here Thursday, donating their services at a benefit concert. The beneficiaries are the Concerto Soloists, Philadelphia's resident chamber orchestra, now in its 35th year, and Music for All Seasons, the nonprofit organization that, since 1991, has been bringing classical music to children's hospitals, medical and rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and prisons.

The benefit, "A Perfect 10 on the Entertainment Scale: An Intimate Evening With Julie Andrews and Dudley Moore," will be at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, starting at 6:15.

Moore's and Andrews' appearance here is something special for each, even more special for Moore.

In September, Moore scotched rumors that he was an alcoholic by announcing that he was suffering from a rare neurological disease called progressive supranuclear palsy. The condition resembles Parkinson's syndrome and is incurable.

"One person in 100,000 suffers from this disease, and I am also aware that there are 100,000 [members] of my union, the Screen Actors Guild, who are working every day," Moore said in revealing his condition. "I think, therefore, it is in some way considerate of me that I have taken on this disease for myself, thus protecting the remaining 99,999 SAG members from this fate," he said wryly.

He has been getting physical therapy at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in East Orange, N.J.

"His condition varies - he has his ups and downs," said his old friend Rena Fruchter, founder and artistic director of Music for All Seasons. Moore has been living at the northern New Jersey home of Fruchter and her husband, Brian Dallow, Music for All Seasons' executive director, for the last three years.

His appearance here will be the first time that the 62-inch "Cuddly Dudley," born with a club foot and a gift for laughter, will perform in public in more than a year, and the first time he has ever been in Philadelphia.

"I'm looking forward to it immensely," he said in a brief phone interview last week. "I think nobody should get nervous on my behalf."

It has been 20 years since he teamed up with Julie Andrews in 10, he as the randy middle-aged man smitten by his dentist's honeymooning daughter, played by Bo Derek, and Andrews as his long-suffering lady friend. On appearing with Andrews in the benefit, he said: "It's like 'here we go again' - I think it will be great fun."

(A Barbara Walters 20/20 interview with Moore will air on Channel 6 Friday at 10 p.m.)

As for Andrews, her difficulty is more career-damaging than life-threatening. Two-and-a-half years ago, she had what was supposed to be a routine operation to remove noncancerous nodules from her throat. The surgery did not turn out well: She has not been able to sing since. She insists that she will sing again, but even her husband of 29 years, director Blake Edwards, has admitted pessimism.

Her voice problem hasn't slowed the legendary international star.

Earlier this year, she and James Garner, with whom she starred in the '60s in The Americanization of Emily and in the '80s in Victor/Victoria, teamed up on a TV special to be aired Thanksgiving evening on CBS. She also recently made a film in England based on Noel Coward's play Relative Values.

She is currently on a book tour, promoting her recently published children's book, her third. It's called Little Bo: The Story of Bonnie Boadicea. She's also planning to write a memoir of her early life - she has vivid memories of London during the blitz in World War II.

Moore has been advisory board president of Music for All Seasons, based in Scotch Plains, N.J., since its inception. Its board includes a galaxy of star names, among them Milton Babbitt, Alfred Brendel, Charles Dutoit, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Gian Carlo Menotti, Liza Minnelli, Roberta Peters, Tony Randall, Lynn Redgrave, Peter Schickele, Gerard Schwartz, Maxim Shostakovich, Leonard Slatkin and Andre Watts.

"It's a marvelous organization, bringing music to people who can't otherwise hear it," Moore said.

During the program Andrews will narrate Fantasy on a Gypsy Breeze, a work that Moore composed four years ago. It is based on a poem by a 19-year-old Penn State student named Erin Sweeney, who won a 1996 competition for young writers sponsored by Moore and Fruchter.

Andrews and Moore will narrate together Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals with verses by Ogden Nash. Fruchter and Dallow will accompany them at the piano.

And the Concerto Soloists will regale the audience with a suite from Richard Rodgers' The Sound of Music and - but what else? - Bolero.

A dinner for 400 will follow the music. At the dinner Concerto Soloists will present its Legacy Award to the family of the late Philadelphia lawyer Harold E. Kohn, honoring his contributions to the cultural life of the city. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and his wife, Christine, are chairs of the event.

Tickets for the concert are sold out. For information about late cancellation tickets for the dinner, call 215-545-5451.

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