Imaginary Friends To Close on Broadway, Feb. 16

News   Imaginary Friends To Close on Broadway, Feb. 16 Screenwriter Nora Ephron's debut stage work, Imaginary Friends, will close Feb. 16 at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
Imaginary Friends stars Harry Groener and Cherry Jones.
Imaginary Friends stars Harry Groener and Cherry Jones. (Photo by Craig Schwartz)

The production will have played 20 previews and 76 performances by the end of its run.

Cherry Jones and Swoosie Kurtz star in Imaginary Friends, which made its world premiere at San Diego's The Globe Theatre in September 2002 and opened on Broadway Dec. 12. The play-with-music focuses on the literary catfight between scribes Lillian Hellman (Kurtz) and Mary McCarthy (Jones).

Harry Groener (Crazy For You) and Anne Pitoniak (Dance of Death) also star in the play, with Anne Allgood, Constance Barron, Bernard Dotson, Rosena M. Hill, Gina Lamparella, Dirk Lumbard, Peter Marx, Jim Osorno, Perry Ojeda, Karyn Quackenbush and Melanie Vaughan.

Four-time Tony Award nominee Jack O'Brien (The Full Monty, The Invention of Love) directs the production with Hairspray cohort Jerry Mitchell choreographing.

Songs featured in the play are penned by the composer-lyricist team of Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia (Sweet Smell of Success). The songwriting team employs the ensemble as a Greek chorus to musically elaborate on the plot. The creative team features Michael Levine (sets), Robert Morgan (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lights), Jon Weston (sound) and Jan Hartley (video projection). Ron Melrose handles musical direction, supervision and dance arrangements. Orchestrations are by Torrie Zito.

Imaginary Friends marks the first stage work, and thus the Broadway debut, of screenwriter and film director Ephron. The libel lawsuit-laden battle between McCarthy and Hellman ended with the death of Hellman in 1984. Ephron takes chronological and historical liberties, as used similarly in Michael Frayn's Copenhagen. (Promotional art for the production features photos of two jovial young girls with the indicating words "Liar" and "Bitch" drawn in, as if with Magic Marker.)

Ephron — or, rather, her life — is no stranger to the stage; her early childhood was the focus of her stage and screenwriting parents' Three's a Family. Take Her, She's Mine was based on her correspondence with Henry and Phoebe Ephron during her college years. The writer is best known for her screenplays for "When Harry Met Sally...," "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle." She directed the latter two.

USA Ostar Theatricals produces the Broadway production. USA Ostar were also the producers of Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, Proof, the Broadway revivals of Hedda Gabler and Dance of Death as well as Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things.

For tickets call Telecharge at (212) 239 6200 or (800) 432-7250 or log onto www.telecharge.com.

Swoosie Kurtz as Lillian Hellman in <i>Imaginary Friends.</i>
Swoosie Kurtz as Lillian Hellman in Imaginary Friends. (Photo by Craig Schwartz)