The vintage 1907 Belasco had been the producers' first choice, but the recent extension of Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune prevented that. With the March 9 closing of the McNally play, the theatre that is said the to be haunted by the ghost of David Belasco will now be enchanted by women seeking refuge in a romantic tale set in an Italian villa.
According to a March 6 statement by the producers, "With the closing of that play, the Shubert Organization enabled us to go to the Belasco, one of the most beautiful theatres on Broadway and the one for which our set design had originally been configured. In fact, we think the author of the novel, Elizabeth von Armin, would be especially pleased to be in one of Broadway's most venerable theatres."
"I believe an aged residence like an Italian villa, beautifully maintained, is one of the great joys of life," the author once said.
Atkinson will play Lotty, the mousy, cloistered English housewife who, with Ringwald's quirky Rose, another bored wife, embarks on a bold excursion to Tuscany which transforms their dreary existences. Ashley is Mrs. Graves, the prideful matron who joins them. Jeffrey Richards, Richard Gross, Ellen Berman, Irv Welzer and Fred Vogel produce.
Ringwald is a busy stage performer lately. She has recently played two praised engagements in Broadway's Cabaret. Before that, she did a stint in Off-Broadway's tick, tick...BOOM!
The adaptation of Elizabeth von Arnim's 1921 novel began previews at Hartford Stage way back on Feb. 24, 2000. The book was made into a popular 1991 film starring Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson, Alfred Molina, Josie Lawrence and Polly Walker. The novel had been previously filmed in 1935.
Starring in the Hartford show were Enid Graham, a Tony nominee for Honour, Christopher Duva (MTC's An Experiment with an Air Pump), Christopher Donahue, John Hines, Isabel Keating, Stephanie March, Irma St. Paule and Jill Tanner.
At one point, the romantic comedy hoped to transfer to a Broadway house as early as April 2000. Michael Wilson, Hartford artistic director, will direct.
The designers conjuring Enchanted April are Tony Straiges (set), Jess Goldstein (costumes), Rui Rita (lighting) and John Gromada (composer and sound designer). The official opening is set for 7 PM April 29 at the Belasco Theatre, 111 West 44th Street, between Sixth Avenue and Broadway. For tickets, call (212) 239- 6200.