Illness Strikes The Dead: Musical Cancels Oct. 19, 20 Shows; Will Resume Oct. 21

News   Illness Strikes The Dead: Musical Cancels Oct. 19, 20 Shows; Will Resume Oct. 21 The Oct. 20 evening performance of James Joyce's The Dead, at Playwrights Horizons, was canceled, due to star Marni Nixon falling sick. According to a show spokesman, the Oct. 19 show was also canceled.

The Oct. 20 evening performance of James Joyce's The Dead, at Playwrights Horizons, was canceled, due to star Marni Nixon falling sick. According to a show spokesman, the Oct. 19 show was also canceled.

Nixon is expected to be back in the show on Thursday, Oct. 21. A Friday Oct. 22 matinee at 3 PM has been added to make up for the lost shows, and some tickets are available to the public. The Dead's entire run has been sold out since before its first preview. Call (212) 279-4200 to inquire.

The Dead is the tale of a wife who conjures the past to reveal an aching unhappiness in her marriage. The story, drawn from Joyce's collection, "Dubliners," is set at the Christmastime party of Gabriel's music-loving aunts. A song sung at the holiday party revives wife Gretta's buried memories of a boy she loved as a teenager and who died young. As husband Gabriel listens to Gretta relate the tale of her early love, he realizes a man he never knew has had a grip on his wife's imagination for years. Gabriel grapples with the revelation that the dead -- even the unknown dead -- never release their hold on the living.

The combination of Joyce's classic story and a cast that includes Christopher Walken ("The Deer Hunter") and Blair Brown prompted theatregoers to flock to the Off-Broadway Horizons box office.

Film actor Walken ("Pennies from Heaven," in which he danced and sang) and Brown (known for TV's "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" and Broadway's Cabaret and Arcadia) will be the Irish husband and wife, Gabriel and Gretta Conroy, in the new Richard Nelson-Shaun Davey adaptation. Nelson also directs, along with Jack Hofsiss. Joining Walken and Brown are former Side Show Tony Award nominees Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley as Mary Jane and Molly Ivors, respectively, Tony Award-winner Daisy Eagan (grown up now, since her Tony win in The Secret Garden) as Rita and Young Julia, two-time Tony-winner Stephen Spinella (Angels in America) as Freddy Malins, Tony nominee Sally Ann Howes (1963's Brigadoon revival, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang") as Aunt Julia and Nixon (famous as the singing voice of Audrey Hepburn in the film "My Fair Lady") as Aunt Kate.

The 13-performer company also includes Brian Davies (the original Hero of A Funny Thing Happened...) as Mr. Browne, Paddy Croft (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and 1999's Night Must Fall) as Mrs. Malins, Dashiell Eaves (the recent revivals of 1776 and The Sound Music) as Michael, performance artist John Kelly as tenor Bartell D'Arcy and Brooke Sunny Moriber (Parade) as Lily.

Nelson's grasp of the British sensibility and subjects is well-known to followers of his work, Goodnight Children Everywhere, Some Americans Abroad and Two Shakespearean Actors. Nelson has been a director in New York and London, recently staging his own Goodnight Children Everywhere at Playwrights and Kenneth's First Play (written with Colin Chambers) for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Unlucky, ticketless theatergoers will have to wait and see if there is a life after The Dead's initial run through Nov. 14. Official opening is expected for Oct. 28.