There isn't an agreement yet but there are plans to take the Ford's Theatre production of "Hot Mikado" to Broadway in the fall, would-be producers confirmed last week.

The New York "Mikado" will be coproduced by independent producer Joe Cates, Ford's Executive Producer Frankie Hewitt and Ford's Theatre, Hewitt said. Ford's will participate in any profits made from the production, she explained, but the theater will not be a general partner and, therefore, will not assume financial risk. Hewitt said her financial involvement will be "to protect Ford's interest . . . and to keep a continuing eye on the show ."

Representatives from several New York theaters have been invited to Washington to see "Hot Mikado," including the Nederlander Organization, which has already visited Ford's, according to Cates. Maurice Hines was in town recently to watch a performance and is reportedly interested in the role of the tap-dancing Mikado. "I have no knowledge of that," Cates said. The current Mikado is played by Lawrence Hamilton, who appeared with Hines in "Uptown . . . It's Hot!"

Cates, who has long produced Ford's annual fund-raising special, will produce this year's gala June 8 (televised June 28 on CBS). "Hot Mikado," extended here through July 27, will shut down June 2 through June 14 so arrangements can be made for the fundraiser.

Reader's Digest Grants

Arena Stage and the American National Theater are among 49 dance and theater groups nationwide that last week were named recipients of grants totaling $3 million from the newly established Reader's Digest Dance and Theater Program. The grants were awarded to organizations in 14 cities to "create and produce new works," according to spokesman Craig Lowder, and range from $50,000 annually for three years to $2,500 for one year.sw,-2 sk,2

Arena was awarded a three-year, $25,000 grant, which will be used to establish a resident playwrighting program, according to spokesman Shawn Fraser. The Writers' Unit will be "headed by a leading American playwright, with two or three of his or her peers serving as senior advisers," who will develop new material with Arena's resident acting company in mind. Funds will also be earmarked for periodic residencies and for new works by lesser known playwrights, he said.

ANT received a three-year, $15,000 grant but specifics as to how the money will be allocated were not available.

In addition the Fund for New American Plays, a joint project between the Kennedy Center and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities that provides grants to regional theaters to develop new dramatic works, was awarded a one-time $25,000 grant.

Other theaters to receive grants include the American Repertory Theatre, the Goodman Theatre and the Wooster Group. The program is sponsored by the Wallace Funds, a private charitable foundation established by DeWitt and Lila Wallace, cofounders of Reader's Digest.

'Big River' Tour Sinks in D.C

Huck and Jim may have tamed the Mighty Miss but the musical they inspired, "Big River," will drown on the Potomac; the producer announced last week that the tour will end after closing at the Kennedy Center Opera House May 24. A spokeswoman for the show cited "booking problems" as reason for the tour's end, but said there was hope of a fall tour. Meanwhile, the original production continues on Broadway.

Young Playwrights' Silent Auction

Works by artists including Henry Moore, Thomas Hart Benton and Erte will be auctioned in silent bidding Thursday from noon to 11 p.m. at the North Gallery of the Kennedy Center. Proceeds benefit the Henry Fonda Young Playwrights Project, a program that encourages students aged 12 to 18 to write plays that deal with an aspect of disability in contemporary society, and which is administered by Very Special Arts, an educational affiliate of the Kennedy Center. That evening actress Cicely Tyson will host a sold-out premiere of "Blind Man Blues" and "Go Fish, Mabel" in the Terrace Theater.

Hit and Run

Just passing through this week: New Zealand's Cathy Downes performs her one-woman show, "The Case of Katherine Mansfield," tonight at Horizons Theatre . . . Israel's Haifa Municipal Theatre will perform "Ghetto" tonight through Thursday and "The Soul of a Jew" Friday through Sunday at the Eisenhower Theater . . . "Orchards," a collection of seven Chekhov short stories adapted by American playwrights, will be staged Thursday through Saturday at the Terrace Theater . . . "Dreamgirls" cast members Lawrence Clayton and Yvette Cason will perform "Late at Night," a musical evening of jazz, blues, contemporary pop tunes, Broadway standards and original material, Monday at Tracks.

Odds and Ends

The Takoma Players will host a benefit tea and concert featuring Julia and Company Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Takoma Theatre; tickets may be had by calling 723-1024 . . . "Comedy a la Carte," starring the Park Place Players, moves Friday to J.J. Mellons, where it will run Wednesday through Saturday . . . "Johnny Bull" has been extended through June 1 at Horizons.

Opening this week: Thursday, Harold Pinter's "Old Times" at Arena's Kreeger; Sunday, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" at the Studio; Monday, "Macbeth" at Source's Warehouse Rep.