Actor Earle Hyman, best known for his Emmy-nominated role as Russell Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," is resting comfortably after collapsing on stage April 14 early into the evening performance of Edward Albee's new play, The Play About the Baby.
Hyman spent the weekend in Memorial Hermann Hospital before returning home to rest, per doctor's orders. Whether he will return before the Baby's run ends May 6 has not yet been determined.
The 73-year-old actor was Tony nominated for Albee's The Lady From Dubuque and went on to perform on Broadway in Execution of Justice, The Master Builder and Anna Lucasta. He also starred in Driving Miss Daisy Off Broadway.
Replacing Hyman is Alley company member James Belcher. No stranger to Albee (he played Peter in the Albee-directed Zoo Story at the Alley in 1999), he recently appeared in the Theatre's Comedy of Errors (Solinus), A Christmas Carol (Phizz), A View From the Bridge (Mike) and Travesties (Lenin).
The rest of the Alley cast remains the same with Marian Seldes leading the company as Woman. A Tony winner for Albee's Delicate Balance, Seldes was nominated for a 1999 Tony Award for her work in Ring Round the Moon, in which she replaced an ailing Irene Worth as Madame Desmermortes. A Theatre Hall of Fame inductee in 1996, Seldes' New York credits include Three Tall Women, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, Father's Day, Equus, Deathtrap and Ivanov. Also in the cast are Rebecca Harris (Girl) and David Burtka (Boy). Harris recently appeared at New York City's Signature Theatre's production of Enter the Night as well as Oleanna and Our Town at the Alley. Burtka's credits include the Off-Broadway production of Beautiful Thing, the national tour of Beauty and the Beast and the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Children of Eden.
Although Baby was rumored to be a sequel to Albee's most revered work, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, where an imaginary child is discussed, the four-character play is not a continuation of that storyline. Instead, it tells of a young couple who appear to have just had a child, only to find that illusion challenged by the arrival of an older man and woman. Baby made its world premiere in September, 1998 in London. Other Albee plays are the Pulitzer Prize-winners A Delicate Balance, Seascape and Three Tall Women, as well as the short works The Zoo Story and The American Dream, which Albee directed for the Alley last season.
Tickets to The Play About the Baby are $49-$19. The Alley Theatre is located at 615 Texas Avenue. For tickets, call (713) 228-8421 or (800) 259-ALLE. The Alley Theatre is on the web at http://www.alleytheatre.com.
-- By Christine Ehren