George Wendt, last on Broadway in Art and best known for his role as Norm on TV's "Cheers," will find himself with a meaty new role come March 2000. He's been cast in Michael Hollinger's comedy, An Empty Plate in the Cafe du Grand Boeuf, running at Off-Broadway's Primary Stages March 8-April 9, 2000.
When it played at the Berkshire Festival in 1998, the comedy was billed as "a wacky tribute to the soul and spirit of the 1960s." Further casting for the New York staging has yet to be announced, according to production spokesperson Karen Greco (Dec. 14).
John Rando, a Primary Stages veteran, directs. He helmed David Ives' Mere Mortals there and also staged Ives' Lives of the Saints in Philadelphia, the Encores! staging of Do Re Mi and Merton of the Movies at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
In other Primary Stages news, May 3-June 4, 2000 is a cornucopia for "Foote" fetishists. That's when Horton Foote will direct his daughter, Hallie Foote, in a new play by his other daughter, Daisy Foote. When They Speak of Rita, officially opening May 17, tells of domestic problems for a New Hampshire family. Foote pere, the director, won a Pulitzer for his play, The Young Man From Atlanta and also penned Valentine's Day and 1918. * Currently at Primary Stages, writer-actor Bob Kingdom's Elsa Edgar, a strange-bedfellows tale of gossip diva Elsa Maxwell and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, has been extended to Jan. 16, 2000. Previews began Dec. 1 for the solo show, which officially opened Dec. 15.
In two monologues about the way the media handles rumor and private information, author-actor Kingdom looks at gossip columnist Elsa Maxwell and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. "They invented the forms of control that we're still living with," said Kingdom in a statement. "In their world, gossip becomes surveillance and surveillance gossip."
Kingdom penned the solo works Dylan Thomas: Return Journey and The Truman Capote Talk Show, which played in repertory at NYC's Perry Street Theatre in 1994. Elsa Edgar is directed by Casey Childs.
For Primary Stages tickets ($30-$35; Subscriptions $130 and up), call the box office at (212) 333-4052.
-- By David Lefkowitz and Robert Simonson