Academy Award-winner Linda Hunt will no longer open CA's La Jolla Playhouse's 50th Anniversary season, as the imperious Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Christine Estabrook, who was previously cast as Miss Prism, will take over the role in a flash, with previews beginning May 13.
"I have felt it wise to withdraw from the production due to a temporary heart rhythm problem," Hunt said. "[The problem] can be righted with medication after some adjustment period. This is too critical a time in the rehearsal process, as we move into tech and previews, for me to be functioning at less than 100 percent."
Hunt debuted at La Jolla Playhouse as Dolly Levi in Thorton Wilder's The Matchmaker's in 1987. She received the 1983 Academy Award for The Year of Living Dangerously , and has worked extensively in theatre, film, and television.
Director Les Waters and Michael Grief were responsible for recasting Estabrook as Bracknell. Estabrook has starred on TV shows and in films such as The Usual Suspects, Frasier, and The X-Files, and appeared on Broadway in The Sister's Rosensweig, The Heidi Chronicles and I'm Not Rappaport.
Hunt said that "the sublimely funny Christine Estabrook" playing the role of Bracknell "should be a treat for all." Making her La Jolla debut by stepping into the role of Miss Prism is Ursula Meyer, a colleague of Grief and Waters who is a voice/text and acting instructor at University of California/San Diego. She has appeared on many regional stages including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Rep, Milwaukee Rep and in various other Shakespeare Festivals.
The Importance of Being Earnest will be the centerpiece of the Playhouse's 50th Anniversary Gala. The comedy was originally produced at La Jolla in 1949, starring two of its founders, Mel Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire.
Following Earnest, La Jolla is hosting the Southern California premiere of Michael Grief's Rent. For tickets or more information about the show and season, please call (619) 550-1010, or refer to the La Jolla Playhouse Regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
--By Blair Glaser