The illness of actress Anne Bancroft prompted the postponement of planned world-premiere performances of Edward Albee's Occupant by Signature Theatre Company in Manhattan Feb. 23-March 18, but Bancroft will return March 20 — a day later than expected.
The famed Tony Award-winning actress will take an extra day of rehearsal and not play March 19, a spokesperson confirmed. Instead, standby Kathleen Butler will play the role of artist Louise Nevelson in the two-character play.
The decision to suspend shows Feb. 22 came after Anne Bancroft was taken ill with pneumonia and had to miss two weeks of previews at the Off-Broadway nonprofit devoted to new works by a stable of specific writers. Butler performed in her absence. Bancroft will play the last three weeks of the scheduled run, which will end April 7.
The two-hander is in an interview format in which sculptor Nevelson recounts her adventurous bohemian life in art, as an interviewer (Neal Huff) tries to separate fact from fiction. In an earlier statement, Bancroft said, "I love this play. It's an incredibly valuable piece of theatre, and I can’t wait to get back to it."
Anthony Page directs. Occupant began previews on Feb. 5, and Bancroft played the first week of the run before becoming ill. Signature Theatre Company's Peter Norton Space is located at 555 W. 42nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues). The performance schedule is 8 PM Tuesday Saturday, with matinees on 2 PM Saturday and 3 PM Sunday. Single tickets are $60. For subscription and ticket information, call (212) 244 PLAY.
Everything's coming up Albee this spring: Broadway has The Goat or Who is Sylvia? and the Roundabout Theatre Company is bringing McCarter Theatre's All Over, starring Rosemary Harris, to Off-Broadway's Gramercy Theatre in June.
— By Kenneth Jones