It was to be an exciting rematch: Craig Schulman vs. Merwin Foard. Both appeared in a 1992 Canadian mounting of Les Miserables, Schulman as persecuted Valjean, Foard as prosecutorial Javert. This past week they were scheduled to go head-to-head again, this time as Neville and Archibald Craven, the antagonistic brothers of Simon/Norman's musical, The Secret Garden. The show opened Sept. 11 for a run through Sept. 20 at the North Carolina Theatre.
However, Schulman's daughter has been critically ill, and after the opening night, she apparently took a turn for the worse, according to North Carolina Theatre spokesperson Debbie Fox Davis (Sept. 14). Schulman left the show, with understudy Bruce Alan Johnson taking over.
"We're very saddened and upset," said spokesperson Davis at the time, "but Bruce has done an incredible job, and the whole company has pulled together for a wonderful show." Davis added that Schulman said he'd like to come back, "but that depends on his family situation, of course."
Happily, the situation has improved. Schulman is now commuting daily from NC to NY and has returned to his role in The Secret Garden for the rest of the run. He missed only two performances due to the health scare.
* In August, Schulman left Broadway's Les Miserables where he played Valjean for the sixth time with the company, continuing his record as the person who has played Valjean more times than anyone else -- more than 1,800 times. Foard most recently appeared on Broadway as Richard Henry Lee in the revival of 1776 at the Roundabout and the Gershwin.
Also in the cast is Joanna Pacitti, the former 25th anniversary Annie, who lost the role on Broadway in a highly publicized story. She plays Mary Lennox, the girl who, on the loss of her parents in India, goes to live with her uncles Craven in England.
The Secret Garden runs through Sept. 20. Tickets are $49.50-$16 and can be purchased by calling the Memorial Auditorium box office at (919) 831 6060 or Ticketmaster at (919) 834-4000.
Upcoming shows at the Raleigh, NC theatre include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Nov. 6-15, and opening the 1999 season, Grease, Feb. 12-21, 1999.