Broadway's Best Man Will Star Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette, Michael McKean, James Earl Jones

News   Broadway's Best Man Will Star Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette, Michael McKean, James Earl Jones
 
Tony Award winner James Earl Jones will be in good company for the spring 2012 revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man. The play about a U.S. presidential race will also star Emmy Award winner Candice Bergen, five-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury, Tony winner John Larroquette and Drama Desk Award winner and Academy Award nominee Michael McKean.

Angela Lansbury
Angela Lansbury

As previously reported, the director is Michael Wilson, who received the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Director of a Play for the acclaimed epic production of Horton Foote's The Orphans' Home Cycle at the Signature Theatre Company. He also directed Foote's Dividing the Estate on Broadway.

The Best Man will begin rehearsals on Jan. 30, 2012, in anticipation of a first preview on March 6, 2012. An official opening is April 1 at a Shubert tehatre to be announced.

Jones (Fences, The Great White Hope, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Driving Miss Daisy) will play the former President of the United States. His endorsement of candidates is part of the plot of the political drama. Charles Durning played former president Hockstader in the 2000 revival.

 

John Larroquette
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Here's how the work is billed by the producers: "A play about power, ambition, political secrets, ruthlessness and the race for the presidency, Gore Vidal's The Best Man was Vidal's second play following the success of his international comedy hit, Visit to a Small Planet. The Best Man will make its return to Broadway in its first major revival since its critically acclaimed run in 2000 which received a Tony Award nomination and won a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play Revival. Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Darren Bagert (Infinity Stages), the producers of that production, will be reuniting to present the work…" The play last appeared on Broadway in September 2000 starring Elizabeth Ashley, Charles Durning, Christine Ebersole, Spalding Gray, Michael Learned, Chris Noth, Mark Blum, Jonathan Hadary, and Jordan Lage. The production was honored with the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play.

The Best Man originally ran on Broadway in 1960 and was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Play. Melvyn Douglas, portraying candidate William Russell, a former secretary of state, won the Tony Award for outstanding actor. The production ran for 521 performances.

Bergen (who'll play Alice Russell, the wife of candidate William Russell) appeared on Broadway in the mid-1980s in Hurlyburly. She is best known for starring in the TV series "Murphy Brown" (1988-1998), for which she won five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards; and as Shirley Schmidt on "Boston Legal" (2004-2008), for which she was nominated for two Emmys, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Her film appearances include "The Group," "The Sand Pebbles," "Carnal Knowledge," "The Wind and the Lion," "Gandhi," "Rich and Famous" and "Starting Over," for which she was Oscar-nominated.

Lansbury (who'll play Mrs. Gamadge, a women's rights lobbyist) is known for TV's "Murder, She Wrote" and for her Broadway appearances in Mame, Dear World, Sweeney Todd, 1974's Gypsy, 2009's A Little Night Music, 2009's Blithe Spirit, Deuce, A Taste of Honey and Anyone Can Whistle. Her films include "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Gaslight."

Larroquette (who'll play candidate William Russell) is currently starring as J.B. Biggley in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, for which he won 2011 Tony and Drama Desk Awards. He's a five-time Emmy Award-winning actor, best known as Assistant District Attorney Dan Fielding on NBC's "Night Court," which earned him four Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He also starred in the NBC comedy series "The John Larroquette Show," was a series regular on "Boston Legal" and won his fifth Emmy Award for a guest-starring role on "The Practice."

McKean (who'll play campaign manager Dick Jensen) is internationally known for playing Lenny on TV's "Laverne & Shirley," and for his work in the film mockumentaries "This Is Spinal Tap," "A Mighty Wind" and "Best In Show." He is currently appearing in The Public Theater's production of King Lear. He won the 2008 Drama Desk Award for his performance in Broadway's The Homecoming (Outstanding Ensemble Performance). Other Broadway credits include Superior Donuts. The Pajama Game, Hairspray and Accomplice (Theatre World Award). He co-wrote the Grammy-winning theme to "A Mighty Wind" (with Chris Guest and Eugene Levy) and the Oscar-nominated "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" with his wife Annette O'Toole.

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