The new Broadway play Jackie: An American Life opens on Broadway Nov. 10. Gip Hoppe's play is a surreal, farcical evocation of the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, in which eight actors play dozens of different characters. Spokesperson Clint Bond said the show has as many set and costumes changes as a musical.
The title role is played by Margaret Colin, most recently seen onstage in John Patrick Shanley's Psychopathia Sexualis and on movie screens in Independence Day. Colin also starred Off-Broadway in Donald Margulies' Sight Unseen (1992) and received a Drama Desk nomination for her work in Manhattan Theatre Club's 1989 staging of Brian Friel's Aristocrats.
Also in the cast are Bill Camp (Bobby Kennedy), Sam Catlin, Thomas Derrah (Ari Onassis), Gretchen Egolf (Christina Onassis), Lisa Emery, Linda Marie Larson, Kristine Nielsen, Victor Slezak, Derek Smith (Richard Nixon), Kent Adams and Maggie Moore. Emery is a familiar Broadway presence, having appeared in Present Laughter, Burn This and Rumors. Slezak was in Any Given Day and the revival of Suddenly Last Summer.
Jackie: An American Life) opens Nov. 10 at the Belasco Theatre. Tickets are on sale now at (212) 239-6200, outside metro NY: (800) 447-7400. You can also order tickets on Playbill On-Line.
Those holding tickets for the cancelled performances should call those numbers. *
At first, the show was supposed to come to Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre in February at the close of Old Wicked Songs, but Bermuda Avenue Triangle took up residence there instead.
Set designs for Jackie will be by David Gallo, who won raves for his clever work on Off-Broadway's Bunny Bunny. Costumes are by Susan Santoian, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski, and sound by J. Hagenbuckle. Lynne Taylor-Corbett will do the musical staging.
A 1996 mounting of the play at Boston's Wilbur Theatre featured Lane Burgess as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and the rest of the cast -- Diego Arciniegas, Paul Wagner, Caitlin Gibbon, Roberta Kastelic, Chip Phillips, M. Lynda Robinson, Patrick Shea, Kathy St. George and Richard Snee playing dozens of other roles.
Hoppe has spent much of his career writing plays and running a small theatre on Cape Cod. "It's the Wellfleet Harbor Actors' Theatre," Hoppe told Playbill On-Line in mid summer. "We're in our 13th year. We just opened Mamet's A Life In The Theatre. Then we do Eric Overmyer's Dark Rapture, John Kuntz in Rush Limbaugh In Night School. We're also doing a play I wrote called Future Hollow, about the trend toward people moving into gated, secure suburbs. It's a social satire. The final show of the season, Mac Wellman's Seven Blowjobs, opens Sept. 11."
Original producers Louise Westergaard, Bob Meyrowitz and Mark Schwartz are now joined by Bob Cuillo and Roger Dean for the Broadway move.
Jackie ran for four months at Boston's Wilbur Theatre, closing only to make way for the tour of Master Class -- the irony being that Class' Maria Callas was Ari Onassis' main squeeze before he set his on the world's most glamorous widow. Jackie O died in 1994.
"Jackie is treated pristinely," producer Schwartz told Playbill On-Line in February, "and very straight. It's the people around her who are all zany. We've got 8 actors playing 100 roles, with 180 costumes and 86 wigs. Oh, and 12 foot puppets -- it's hysterical." (According to Hoppe, some puppets actually reach 16 feet.)
Schwartz, who also produced Dream on Broadway this season, told Ward Morehouse of the NY Post, "All I can say [about Jackie] is that anyone who's anybody in her life, from her father, `Black Jack' Bouvier, to Jack Kennedy to JFK Jr. is in it. There's even a Nixon-Kennedy debate scene."
Hoppe said the first version of Jackie was staged at the Academy Playhouse in Orleans, MA (near his Cape Cod home) back in 1992. The piece then transferred to Harvard's Hasty Pudding club . "I was looking to do a biography," Hoppe said, "but I wanted it to be large, expansive. So many of these things are one-person shows. It's not a spoof but it is non-realistic and broad, with a lot of comic elements."
Hoppe said he's doing some rewriting and adding new scenes. And the puppets? "Sometimes puppets can portray an attitude better than a live actor." To date, Hoppe has not been contacted by any Kennedys, living or otherwise.