Cherry Jones will reprise the role of Mary McCarthy which she played opposite Christine Baranski's Lillian Hellman in a Nov. 2 staged reading of Nora Ephron's play with music Imaginary Friends. As previously reported, the Broadway-bound production will make its world premiere run at San Diego's The Globe Theatre Sept. 21-Nov. 3.
Though no theatre has been set, the production is aiming to preview in New York Nov. 25 for a Dec. 12 opening "more than likely at a Shubert house" according to production spokesperson. No other casting has been confirmed. Jones, Baranski and Crazy for You's Harry Groener — who played all the male characters — were the cast for the reading.
Helmer Jack O'Brien directed the reading and will stay at the helm with Hairspray cohort Jerry Mitchell choreographing. The creative team has been confirmed as Michael Levine (sets), Robert Morgan (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lights) and Jon Weston (sound). Ron Melrose will serve as musical director.
Imaginary Friends will mark the first stagework by writer Nora Ephron. The play with music centers around the feuding literary femmes Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy. The libel lawsuit-laden battle ended only by the death of Hellman in 1984.
Songs featured in the play are penned by the composer-lyricist team of Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia. The duo are already on the boards with their Sweet Smell of Success. The new work opens at San Diego's The Globe Theatre — where O'Brien serves as artistic director. Ephron — or, rather, her life — is no stranger to the stage; her early childhood was the focus of her stage and screenwriting parents' Three's a Family, and Take Her, She's Mine was based on her correspondence with Henry and Phoebe Ephron during her college years. The writer is best known for her screenplays for "When Harry Met Sally...," "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle" (she directed the latter two).
Bill Haber, who heads USA Ostar Theatricals, produced the reading and will as well the Broadway production. USA Ostar Theatricals were also the producers of the new Broadway revival of Hedda Gabler as well as Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things.