Charlotte d'Amboise was standby to original star Christina Applegate until recently. Applegate broke her foot during the March 11 performance in Chicago, two days before that second of three out-of-town engagements ended at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Understudy Dylis Croman stepped in March 11-13. Soon after, it was announced that the show would arrive in Boston with Tony Award nominee d'Amboise in the title role March 18-27, at the Colonial Theatre.
The producers Barry and Fran Weissler and Clear Channel Entertainment plan to present Christina Applegate in her Broadway debut upon her recovery, a spokesman said.
"We're hoping it will heal very quickly," Barry Weissler told Playbill.com the evening of March 14. "At this point, who knows? She just broke it Friday."
When the star broke her foot, the company was already in the middle of an arduous preview period that includes (as is usual with developing works on the road) the testing of new material.
The loss of Applegate couldn't have come at a worse time. "Everything we planned on putting in the show before Broadway, now we have to hold up on because we're too busy putting people in the show," Weissler said. "There's a limit to what you can do." How is the troupe holding up?
"Everyone's dispirited, everyone's depressed and de-energized by this," Weissler said. "But, by the same token they have to go on with the show. Charlotte d'Amboise is going into the show until Christina heals and comes back. Therefore, on the other hand, they are exuberant about continuing with the show and loving Charlotte."
It has been a whirlwind three days for the venture. In addition to the above, it was revealed that Krya DaCosta and Janine LaManna would replace Solange Sandy and Natascia Diaz, respectively, as Charity's best pals Helene and Nickie, who commiserate with Charity that "there's gotta be something better than this."
Charlotte d'Amboise's sudden graduation to a place above the title will no doubt be greeted as a Cinderella story by the theatre community and New York theatre press. d'Amboise's reputation is as the ultimate Broadway trouper, a talented triple threat with 20 years' experience. She has only rarely originated roles in Broadway musicals, instead building a name as a talented and dedicated replacement lead in shows like Chicago, Damn Yankees and Contact. Many Broadway observers preferred her Roxie Hart to the one created by Ann Reinking.
"She's a triple threat," Weissler said of d'Amboise. "She's got the whole package. She's a marvelous actress, but there's always wit and whimsy in her work. I don't have to convince you that she's a great dancer, and she sings beautifully. She's going to, for the time being, until Christina comes back, make a brilliant Sweet Charity."
As recently as Sunday, March 13, the producers of Sweet Charity expressed their hope that Applegate would return to the show in time for the first preview performance at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on April 4.
Applegate sustained her injury at the beginning of the show March 11 and continued to play for approximately 20 minutes before being unable to continue, the producers confirmed. The show was stopped while Applegate's understudy, Dylis Croman, prepared to go on and finish the performance.
There is no way of knowing precisely when Applegate might be well enough to return, Weissler said. "Look, when this happened with Tommy Tune [in the Weisslers' Busker Alley] it took months," he said. "Christina's younger, maybe the break isn't as bad. I don't know."
Weissler confirmed "right now" the Broadway opening remains April 21 and "I hope Christina is back when the curtain goes up."
Boston will be the third and last pre-Broadway tryout town for the Walter Bobbie-directed musical. The show spent Feb. 8-20 in Minneapolis, and then moved on to Chicago on Feb. 24. The dates for Boston's Colonial Theatre are March 18-27, giving the company a few days to rehearse before d'Amboise plays. Changes and refinesments are ongoing.
Applegate, the star of TV's "Married...with Children" and Hollywood's "Anchorman," is a major part of the show's marketing: Her wide-eyed likeness appears on the marquee of the Hirschfeld, and in print ads.
d'Amboise will share the stage with the Oscar Linquist of Denis O'Hare, the Big Daddy of Rhett George and the Herman of Ernie Sabella.
The creative team for Sweet Charity comprises Wayne Cilento (choreographer), Scott Pask (set designer), William Ivey Long (costume design), Brian MacDevitt (lighting designer), Peter Hylenski (sound designer), Gordon Lowry Harrell (music director) and Don Sebesky (orchestrator).