Come Jan. 20, there'll be a new man in L'il Bit's life, when Cotter Smith takes over the wheel from Bruce Davison in Off-Broadway's How I Learned To Drive. Smith starred on Broadway in An American Daughter and Off-Broadway in Walking The Dead and El Salvador.
As Uncle Peck, Smith plays opposite the current Li'l Bit, Molly Ringwald, who took over for Ivanov's Jayne Atkinson, Oct. 7. The roles were originated in NY by David Morse and Mary Louise Parker.
Davison, who leaves the show Jan. 18, was nominated for an Academy Award for Longtime Companion. His New York stage appearances include Broadway's The Elephant Man, a revival of The Glass Menagerie and The Cocktail Hour. He's had recurring TV roles on "Designing Women" and "City." He also appeared in the film adaption of Six Degrees of Separation opposite Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland.
Ringwald's last stage appearance was a reading of Salome opposite Al Pacino in 1991. (She wasn't in the subsequent Circle In The Square staging.) She won a Theatre World Award for her work in Horton Foote's Lily Dale at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in 1986. Her films include The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink and The Pick-Up Artist.
Asked why she was following the siren call of NY theatre, Ringwald told the Times she was frustrated working on the short-lived TV show, "Townies": "With the series, there were script changes every week, and your character's traits seemed to change from week to week. I wanted to do something that would give me time to find the character and find new things in every performance." According to a spokesperson at the Shirley Herz office, Ringwald is expected to stay with the production "through March 1."
Currently in the Drive supporting cast are Christopher Duva, Johanna Day and Kerry O'Malley. Paula Vogel's comedy/drama, directed by Mark Brokaw at the Vineyard Theatre, is now at the Century Theatre, 111 East 15th St. For tickets ($25-$47.50) and information call (212) 239 6200.
Drive, by the way, will have its West Coast premiere at Berkeley Rep (a co-production with San Francisco's Magic Theatre), Jan. 9-Feb. 27.
-- By David Lefkowitz