Kenny Leon had initially been attached (but not officially signed on) to direct the project. Now, Leon is no longer with the project, and the veteran Broadway actor-choreographer Debbie Allen has signed on to direct. Tony winner Phylicia Rashad, Allen's sister, is in talks play Big Mamma.
Byrd says that an offer is currently out to Danny Glover for Big Daddy. Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose are among the names being considered for Maggie and Blair Underwood and LL Cool J are among the names being considered for Brick.
Byrd had initially been in talks with Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (to play Big Daddy) and Anthony Mackie (Brick).
Audra McDonald was one of the performers originally considered as a possibility for Maggie. Byrd did not rule out the possibility of casting McDonald if other offers fall through, but he cited her many projects, including her recent CD and her upcoming role in Broadway's 110 in the Shade, which would presumably end right before Cat on a Hot Tin Roof rehearsals.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the first theatrical producing project for Byrd, who is African-American. Byrd worked at Goldman Sachs for 15 years and currently runs a private equity fund. He and two of his partners from the fund are bankrolling Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Byrd says he has the rights to the play until mid-2008.
The most recent Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof starred Ashley Judd, Jason Patric and Ned Beatty in 2003. A 1990 revival starred Kathleen Turner, Daniel Hugh Kelly and Charles Durning, and a 1974 revival starred Elizabeth Ashley, Keir Dullea and Fred Gwynne. The original 1955 production starred Barbara Bel Geddes, Ben Gazzara and Burl Ives and was staged by Elia Kazan.