The musical JFK may have come a cropper in Ireland, but JFK's wife, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, is alive and well and coming to Broadway.
Gip Hoppe's farcical Jackie (full title, Jackie: An American Life) is readying for an opening at the Belasco Theatre, with previews beginning Oct. 10 and an opening set for Nov. 10.
At first, the show was supposed to come to Off-Broadway's Promenade Theatre in February at the close of Old Wicked Songs, but Bermuda Avenue Triangle took up residence there instead.
According to the Pete Sanders press office, the show begins rehearsals Sept. 1 and starts previews Sept. 30.
The seven-member cast is also not set, though Theatrical Index mentions Thomas Derrah. Production spokesperson Clint Bond (of the Pete Sanders office) told Playbill On-Line (July 21) casting would likely be announced within a month. Set designs for Jackie will be by David Gallo, who won raves for his clever work on Off-Broadway's Bunny Bunny. According to Theatrical Index, costumes are by Susan Santoian.
A 1996 mounting of the play at Boston's Wilbur Theatre featured Lane Burgess as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and the rest of the cast -- Diego Arciniegas, Paul Wagner, Caitlin Gibbon, Roberta Kastelic, Chip Phillips, M. Lynda Robinson, Patrick Shea, Kathy St. George and Richard Snee playing dozens of other roles.
Keeping busy while he waits for the word on the Jackie opening, Hoppe is writing plays and running a small theatre on Cape Cod. "It's the Wellfleet Harbor Actors' Theatre," Hoppe said. "We're in our 13th year. We just opened Mamet's A Life In The Theatre. Then we do Eric Overmyer's Dark Rapture, John Kuntz in Rush Limbaugh In Night School. We're also doing a play I wrote called Future Hollow, [opening in early August] about the trend toward people moving into gated, secure suburbs. It's a social satire. The final show of the season, Mac Wellman's Seven Blowjobs, opens Sept. 11."
Original producers Louise Westergaard, Bob Meyrowitz and Mark Schwartz are now joined by Bob Cuillo and Roger Dean for the Broadway move.
Jackie ran for four months at Boston's Wilbur Theatre, closing only to make way for the tour of Master Class -- the irony being that Class' Maria Callas was Ari Onassis' main squeeze before he set hs on the world's most glamorous widow. Jackie O died in 1994.
"Jackie is treated pristinely," producer Schwartz told Playbill On-Line in February, "and very straight. It's the people around her who are all zany. We've got 8 actors playing 100 roles, with 180 costumes and 86 wigs. Oh, and 12 foot puppets -- it's hysterical." (According to Hoppe, some puppets actually reach 16 feet.)
Schwartz, who also produced Dream on Broadway this season, told Ward Morehouse of the NY Post, "All I can say [about Jackie] is that anyone who's anybody in her life, from her father, `Black Jack' Bouvier, to Jack Kennedy to JFK Jr. is in it. There's even a Nixon-Kennedy debate scene."
Hoppe said the the first version of Jackie was staged at the Academy Playhouse in Orleans, MA (near his Cape Cod home) back in 1992. The piece then transferred to Harvard's Hasty Pudding club . "I was looking to do a biography," Hoppe said, "but I wanted it to be large, expansive. So many of these things are one-person shows. It's not a spoof but it is non-realistic and broad, with a lot of comic elements."
Hoppe said he's doing some rewriting and adding new scenes. And the puppets? "Sometimes puppets can portray an attitude better than a live actor." To date, Hoppe has not been contacted by any Kennedys, living or otherwise.