Fans of Lauren Bacall have waited patiently for her return to Broadway -- she last appeared on Broadway in 1982 with her Tony Award-winning role in Woman of the Year. For the truly devout, the long wait is almost over and Bacall is ready to begin her long season with Waiting in the Wings, just as Yankees and Mets fans get ready to celebrate a long season, perhaps leading to the 1999 World Series.
On Oct. 12, Bacall, Rosemary Harris, and the rest of their ensemble cast began rehearsals for the Noel Coward play at the Manhattan Theatre Club's rehearsal rooms. Waiting opens Dec. 16 at the Walter Kerr Theatre, which is timed to coincide with the playwright's 100th birthday. Previews begin Dec. 3.
Directed by Michael Langham, Coward's Waiting involves the longtime rivalry between two actresses (Bacall and Harris) who are forced to confront each other in a retirement home for actresses.
Also featured in the show are Victoria Boothby, Amelia Campbell, Patricia Conolly, Anthony Cummings, Bette Henritze, Barnard Hughes, Dana Ivey, Simon Jones, Elizabeth Marvel, Rosemary Murphy, Helen Stenborg and Elizabeth Wilson.
The show is produced by Alexander H. Cohen, Chase Mishkin, Max Cooper, Leonard Soloway and Steven M. Levy. Addressing the cast and reporters gathered at MTC, Cohen gestured proudly toward the actors and said, "It is Mr. Coward and only Mr. Coward that could attract this kind of company."
Cohen characterized the play as Coward's "most interesting" because it dealt with aging and how we view people in that regard. "It focuses on an issue that remains contemporary in our time, " Cohen said.
The cast was in good spirits and spoke freely with reporters. At one point, producer Chase Mishkin complimented the company with a reference to the possibility of a Subway Series in baseball between the Mets and the Yankees.
"This is the best lineup in town," Mishkin said, "forget the Mets, forget the Yankees."
Across the room Bacall's trademark voice came across loud and clear as she made an aside to the press: "Go Mets," Bacall said, sotto voce, "tonight's the night."