Gus's Place in Greenwich Village, where Tony n' Tina once held post-nup sups, was recently the place to celebrate Uta Hagen's return to theatre. The 79-year-old star/teacher is giving her acting lessons from the stage of the Lucille Lortel, playing a literary light whose private life is misappropriated by a protégé in Donald Margulies' Pulitzer Prize contender, Collected Stories. Maria Tucci was brilliant in the part in a Manhattan Theatre Club production last year, and Hagen rose to the bait of a longer run.
Gus himself welcomed Hagen to the reopening-night party with a poster proclaiming, "Uta, what a dump!" -- an allusion to an old Bette Davis line (from "Beyond the Forest"), which Hagen kicked around the block a few times in her Tony-winning diatribe from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? that marked Gus's first brush with Broadway. "I've seen thousands of other plays," he told the gathering, "but that's still the greatest performance I have ever seen!"
Lorca Simons, who's seeing a pretty great one up close on the stage she shares with Hagen, claims this experience is more inspiring than intimidating: "She's definitely somebody you want to show up for, and you do your best."
Maria Tucci's is not the only tough act to follow: Bebe Neuwirth's Tony winning work in Chicago has been shrewdly replaced by Ute Lemper's Olivier Award-winning performance of the same role in London. (So wise those Weisslers.) *
Joining the beauty on Broadway is La Bête himself, Tom McGowan, following Ernie Sabella and Joel Grey as Chicago's "Mister Cellophane." His never-lovin', Roxie Hart, is now three stars deep into the runÐthe latest, Karen Ziemba, replaced Marilu Henner, who replaced Ann Reinking, and, when Hinton Battle chucks his Johnny Cochranesque tap shoes, look for Alan Thicke to be routed in from one of the Chicago road companies.
No less than three Olivier Award winners -- Brian Cox, Henry Goodman and David Haig -- have taken over Broadway's Art, replacing Alan Alda, Victor Garber and Alfred Molina. And, while those last three weigh an L.A. reprise, the London Art is being entrusted to Yanks: Stacy Keach, David Dukes and George Wendt.
-- by Harry Haun