Well, the knuckle-biting waiting game is sort of over to find out who would be the lead in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum when David Alan Grier's contract ran out, Nov. 16. The answer is: David Alan Grier -- at least through Nov. 30.
The producers have officially extended his contract two more weeks, though rumor has it he'll stay on for longer. As of the week ending Nov. 2, Forum was playing to 50 percent houses.
On Oct. 23, the New York Times reported that the George C. Wolfe (head of the NY Shakespeare Festival) is ready to bring his staging of the summer hit, On The Town, to the 1,623-seat St. James Theatre -- current home of Forum. The show's press reps had no information on the proposed move, though spokespersons at the Public Theatre confirmed the Times story and that Times reporter Rick Lyman had spoken directly to Wolfe. As of the week ending Oct. 12, Forum was playing to 60 percent capacity.
Comedian Grier, of TV's "In Living Color," succeeded Whoopi Goldberg July 15 as Pseudolus in the Larry Gelbart/Stephen Sondheim spoof of ancient Rome. Grier, who made his mark in the recurring "Men on Film" movie critic parody skit ("Loved It! Hated It!"), has a long stage resume, having starred in the Jackie Robinson Broadway musical The First, and Off Broadway in A Soldier's Play. Other Grier credits include Dreamgirls and a Public Theatre production of The Merry Wives Of Windsor. He also appeared in the Encores! concert staging of One Touch Of Venus in New York.
Several names have come up as candidates to replace Grier, including Carol Burnett (apparently once close to taking the role, now out of the picture) pturn by Nathan Lane, whom sources say is busy with sitcom talks with the creators of TV's "Frasier." The most recent rumor, reported by the New York Post (Sept. 12) is that Whoopi Goldberg will return as Pseudolus, since Goldberg was a huge box office draw, and since her boyfriend, Frank Langella, will be Off-Broadway at the time in Cyrano. A spokesperson for Goldberg would neither confirm nor deny the rumor to the Post. Jackie Green, of the Boneau/Bryan-Brown office, told Playbill On-Line there was "no truth" to the Goldberg rumor.
Appearing with Grier are long-term cast members Ernie Sabella (Lycus), Jim Stanek & Jessica Boevers as the young lovers, and Chris Groenendal as Miles Gloriosus. Ross Lehman, who replaced Mark Linn-Baker, also continues as Hysterium. Robert Fitch recently took over the role of dirty old-man Senex from Dick Latessa, who has gone over to Neil Simon's Proposals. The revival's role was originated by Lewis J. Stadlen.
As for the Forum national tour, that won't begin until Sept. 1998, but producers have already chosen a lead: Rip Taylor.
He's best known as host of TV's "$1.98 Beauty Show" but has also done feature film cameos (Wayne's World) and previous stage work.
According to spokesperson Michael Vergoth (of Big League Touring), Forum auditions for other roles are projected for April 1998.
For tickets ($25-$75) and information on Broadway Forum call (212) 239-6200.