Leading ladies Lauren Bacall and Rosemary Harris are ready to have a go at each other on Broadway. The American premiere of Noel Coward's Waiting in the Wings, which began performances at the Walter Kerr Theatre Dec. 3 after a pre-Broadway Boston run, will officially open Dec. 16 -- Coward's 100th birthday to a day.
Bacall plays Lotta Bainbridge, newest resident at "The Wings," a retirement home for actresses, and former fierce rival to Rosemary Harris' May Davenport. Also in the cast are Barnard Hughes (Da) as Osgood Meeker, Elizabeth Wilson (revival A Delicate Balance) as Bonita Belgrave, Patricia Conolly (The Sound of Music) as Maudie Melrose, Dana Ivey (Last Night of Ballyhoo) as Superintendent Sylvia Archibald, Rosemary Murphy (the original A Delicate Balance) as Cora Clarke, Simon Jones (Ring Round The Moon, The Herbal Bed) as Perry Lascoe, Crista Moore (Gypsy) as the journalist Zelda Fenwick, Helen Stenborg (Wit) as Sarita Myrtle, Victoria Boothby (Stanley) as Topsy, Bette Henritze (Inherit the Wind) as Almina Clare, Helena Carroll (London's Uncle Vanya with Stephen Rea) as Deirdre O'Malley, Amelia Campbell (The Herbal Bed) as Doreen, Anthony Cummings as Alan Banfield, Geddeth Smith as Ted and Collin Johnson.
Harris was last seen on Broadway in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, a role which won her a Tony nomination. She also starred on Broadway in An Inspector Calls and won the Tony in 1966 for her performance in The Lion in Winter.
Bacall has occasionally graced Broadway, most notably in the musicals Woman of the Year and Applause. She won Tony Awards for both. On television, she performed with Coward in 1956 CBS production of "Blithe Spirit." Bacall is still best known, however, for her early film roles opposite Humphrey Bogart, including "To Have and Have Not" and "Key Largo."
Waiting in the Wings has never been produced in America. Playwright-composer-singer-actor bon vivant Noel Coward, who died in 1973, is the author of such works as Private Lives, Hay Fever, Present Laughter, Design for Living and The Vortex. Alexander Cohen, Chase Mishkin, Steven M. Levy, and Leonard Soloway are producing Waiting in the Wings. Tickets ($70-$25) are available by calling Tele-Charge at (800) 432-7250 or at the Walter Kerr box office. The Walter Kerr is located at 219 West 48th Street.