Ah, those two little words that fall so heavily on a director's ear: "scheduling conflicts." Since most theatre performers make their living doing TV and film, shows invariably have to work around production schedules of other media.
That's why Glenne Headly, whose films include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Mr. Holland's Opus, had to leave the cast of Steppenwolf Theatre Company's upcoming The Man Who Came To Dinner.
Headly's Steppenwolf credits include Coyote Ugly and Balm In Gilead. Taking her place as the character Lorraine Sheldon will be Shannon Cochran.
Television producer and director James Burrows directs this Dinner, which stars longtime Steppenwolf member (20-plus productions) and current "Frasier" star John Mahoney. He plays Sheridan Whiteside in this comedy about a sardonic, wheelchair-bound radio star who wreaks havoc in a suburban household. Mahoney's NY credits include Orphans and a Tony-winning turn in The House Of Blue Leaves.
Also in the cast are Robert Breuler (Carousel, The Song Of Jacob Zulu), Rick Snyder (Steppenwolf's recent Streetcar Named Desire), original Steppenwolf company member Alan Wilder, Linda Kimbrough, Ross Lehman (Forum), Matthew Armstrong, Thomas Joseph Carroll, Jane Galloway Heitz, Darin Toonder, Harriet Harris, Natalie West and Jim Ortlieb. George S. Kaufman & Moss Hart's 1939 classic about an Middle-Western family whose lives are turned topsy-turvy when they're forced to share their home with an the acerbic New York critic for the holidays, runs Apr. 17 to June 14 with an opening set for April 26.
The Steppenwolf season will close July 3-Aug. 23 with J.M. Synge's The Playboy Of the Western World starring Jim True. In a small Irish v a young man on his way to love and manhood bashes his bully of a father, earning the hearts of the young ladies and the awe of the villagers. Douglas Hughes, artistic director of CT's Long Wharf Theatre, will stage the comedy.
Steppenwolf's studio season has also been announced and features such notables as director Mary Zimmerman (a recent revival of Arabian Nights) and "Roseanne" actress Laurie Metcalf.
Up next will be a co-production with City Lit Theatre of The Horn, adapted by Mark Richards from the John Clellon Holmes novel about saxophonist Edgar Pool changing the face of American music. (April 1-May 3)
Finishing the studio season (June 24-July 26) will be a new, as yet untitled comedy by Jules Tanner, to star Laurie Metcalf, Tom Irwin and Zoe Perry. Irwin and Metcalf co-starred in My Thing Of Love, both at Steppenwolf and on Broadway.
In other Steppenwolf news, the company will present the American premiere of Wolf Lullaby, by British playwright Hilary Bell, May 9-31.
A "bad seed" tale of human culpability set in a bleak town, the dark drama examines a haunted 9-year-old-girl named Lizzie who is suspected in the murder of a small child.
Anna D. Shapiro directs the production, which will inaugurate Steppenwolf's intimate new rehearsal/performance space on the first floor of the theatre's parking garage building.
For further information, call (312) 335-1888, ext. 856.
In further Steppenwolf news, the theatre will finally makes its public television debut in a new documentary, "Steppenwolf Theatre Company: Twenty Years on the Edge," slated for a prime-time broadcast later in the year.
Produced by HMS Media, the one-hour program profiles the troupe whose "rock 'n' roll" theatre has shaken up a lot more than this city. Accompanied by a musical backdrop donated by Bruce Springsteen and Beth Metheny, filmed interviews will feature such now-stellar Steppenwolf members as Gary Sinise, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf, John Mahoney and Kevin Anderson.
PBS will announce airdates once corporate underwriting has been determined.
For information on Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 North Halsted St., call (773) 335-1650.
-- By David Lefkowitz