Sometimes tragedy overtakes comedy.
When Michael Kennedy died Dec. 31 while playing a football-like game on a Colorado ski course, the author and producers of the Broadway spoof Jackie were faced with questions of taste in their satirization of the Kennedy clan's rise to power.
According to spokesperson Clint Bond, a running gag about the Kennedys compulsively playing football that pokes fun at the family's competitiveness and love of sports has not been touched. Says Bond, "The only thing they took out was Ethel Kennedy's entrance. She comes on with all these puppets attached to her, meaning the 11 kids she had with Bobby. They took that scene out of the show for a while because it might be perceived insensitive. Jackie is more about [the Kennedys] as public figures. We don't portray them as demonic or bad people. The spirit of the humor is not meant to be mean."
Jackie: An American Life opened on Broadway Nov. 10. Gip Hoppe's play is a surreal, farcical evocation of the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, in which eight actors play dozens of different characters.
The title role is played by Margaret Colin, most recently seen onstage in John Patrick Shanley's Psychopathia Sexualis and on movie screens in Independence Day. Colin also starred Off-Broadway in Donald Margulies' Sight Unseen (1992) and received a Drama Desk nomination for her work in Manhattan Theatre Club's 1989 staging of Brian Friel's Aristocrats. Also in the cast are Bill Camp (Bobby Kennedy), Sam Catlin, Thomas Derrah (Ari Onassis), Gretchen Egolf (Christina Onassis), Lisa Emery, Linda Marie Larson, Kristine Nielsen, Victor Slezak, Derek Smith (Richard Nixon), Kent Adams and Maggie Moore. Emery is a familiar Broadway presence, having appeared in Present Laughter, Burn This and Rumors. Slezak was in Any Given Day and the revival of Suddenly Last Summer.
Although Jackie has comparatively low box office and audiences numbers ($111,753 at 41 percent capacity for the week ending Dec. 14), spokespersons for the comedy say the overhead costs are low enough that the show can continue its open run.
Jackie: An American Life) plays at the Belasco Theatre. Tickets are on sale now at (212) 239-6200, outside metro NY: (800) 447-7400.
Those holding tickets for the cancelled performances should call those numbers.