Murphy first won solid notices for her quirky performance as the less-pretty, characterful older sister in the musical when it was revived in an Encores! concert at City Center in 2000. That staging was beefed up and brought to Broadway in fall 2003, and Murphy snagged a 2004 Tony Award nomination for her work in the spring (as did Jennifer Westfeldt as younger sister Eileen).
Nancy Anderson played Eileen following Westfeldt's departure, and Jennifer Hope Wills will step into the role opposite Shields Sept. 28.
Murphy's summer run has been punctuated with absences. She has not played Ruth since Sept. 5, and Playbill On-Line could not learn if Murphy's scheduled performance Sept. 21 meant she would indeed appear at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Newspaper ads after Sept. 5 touted her final weeks, but she did not appear.
Murphy won Tony Awards for Passion and The King and I.
* Brooke Shields' Broadway credits include the revivals of Grease! and Cabaret. Wonderful Town producers Roger Berlind and Barry and Fran Weissler announced Aug. 20 that Shields would replace Murphy as Ruth Sherwood. Ruth (and aspiring writer) and her sister Eileen (an aspiring actress) are Ohio women who move to Greenwich Village in the 1930s.
The book is by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov based on their play, My Sister Eileen, which itself is based on the stories of Ruth McKenney. Music is by Leonard Bernstein, with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Nancy Anderson has played sister Eileen following Westfeldt's tenure. Linda Mugleston has been the understudy for the role of Ruth.
In addition to Grease! and Cabaret, Brooke Shields was seen Off-Broadway in The Vagina Monologues and The Exonerated. Her film credits include "Pretty Baby," "Endless Love," "The Weekend," "The Bachelor" and "King of the Gypsies." She won an American Comedy Award for a guest appearance on "Friends," which led to her hit series "Suddenly Susan."
Wonderful Town plays the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street. The production garnered a 2004 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical Revival as well as a 2004 Tony Award for Best Choreography for Kathleen Marshall. Marshall also directed.
The 2003 company's work has been preserved on a cast album on the DRG label.