It was to have been her first New York stage appearance since The Rose Tattoo at Broadway's Circle In The Square, but Mercedes Ruehl has bowed out of Peter Hedges new drama, Good As New, at Off Broadway's Manhattan Class Company, owing to "television production scheduling conflicts in L.A."
Replacing her during the show's run will be Laura Esterman, of Marvin's Room and Curtains renown. Due to the switch, the show will open March 2 instead of Feb. 26, though previews will still begin on the previously announced Feb. 19 date. Also changed will be the show's announced closing date, formerly March 9, now March 16.
In Good As New, "a nuclear family discovers love may still be possible even after you tell the truth." Filling out the cast are John Spencer, best known for playing Tommy Mullaney on TV's "L.A. Law," and Jennifer Dundas as 16 year-old Maggie who confronts her mother (Esterman) about mom's new face.
Esterman, a Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Obie Winner for Marvin's Room, appeared on Broadway in The Show-Off, Metamorphosis, God's Favorite and The Suicide. Dundas, who starred in Arcadia at Lincoln Center, will return to that theatre in April in a revival of The Little Foxes with Stockard Channing and Brian Murray.
Peter Hedges' previous plays include Imagining Brad, Oregon and Champions Of The Average Joe. His novel, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, was adapted into a feature film. David Van Tieghem provides original music for Good As New, which will have sets by Rob Odorisio, costumes by Sharon Sprague and lighting by Blake Burba. Now in its 11th season, Manhattan Class Company has produced such works as Nixon's Nixon; Three In The Back, Two In The Head; The Grey Zone and A Snake In The Vein.
For tickets ($25-$20) and information on Good As New at the MCC space on West 28th St., call (212) 727-7765.
--By David Lefkowitzeturn to tnV k