The mystery of who is to get the Helen Hayes Theatre is over. The National Actors Theatre revival of Night Must Fall, starring Matthew Broderick, will close at the Lyceum Theatre on April 11 and reopen at the smaller Hayes on April 13 for an open-ended run, a spokesperson for the show told Playbill On-Line. Broderick, who has given up a planned spring engagement at Hartford Stage, will stay with the production.
Since it was announced that the Hayes' recent resident, Band in Berlin, would close on March 21, speculation has run rampant as to whether the theatre would play host to a last-minute entry into the 1998-99 Tony race. Over the course of the last ten days, likely candidates Wit and By Jeeves made it clear a trip to the Hayes was not in their future. The producers of Wit announced they would stay put at the Union Square Theatre, where the play is an Off-Broadway hit. The Goodspeed Opera House of Connecticut had long desired to bring its staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn's musical By Jeeves to Broadway. But executive director of the Goodspeed, Michael Price, told the New York Times (March 19) that the theatre, the actors and the budget were all in line, but director-book writer Alan Ayckbourn had schedule conflicts.
The move of Night Must Fall comes as something of a surprise, for - though the revival of the Emyln Williams thriller garnered a positive notice from the Times -- it was always understood that the show would end on schedule, due to Broderick's commitment to appear in The Death of Papa, Horton Foote's play making its Connecticut premiere at Hartford Stage, May 27. A spokesperson for the National Actors Theatre said Broderick had given up that play.
A Hartford Stage spokesman said that theatre's artistic director Michael Wilson has decided to go forward with Papa and recast Broderick's role.
Night Must Fall, the story of a psychopathic bellboy and the spell he casts on several women in an English country house, began previews on Feb. 2 and opened March 8, with a cast of Broderick, J. Smith-Cameron (who replaced Pamela J. Gray in previews), Judy Parfitt, Michael Countryman, Seana Kofoed, Patricia Kilgarriff and Peter McRobbie. John Tillinger directs.