Thumbs, the new thriller written and directed by Rupert Holmes, begins its world premiere run by the Helen Hayes Theatre Compnay in Nyack, NY, March 9, with Kathie Lee Gifford as the quarry of a serial killer who chops off the digits of his victims.
Tom Beckett, Brad Bellamy, Brian Letscher, Hardy Rawls and Nicola Royston share the stage with the talk show diva, actress and singer who starred in Broadway's Putting It Together. Playwright-songwriter Holmes is known for Broadway's The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and creating the cable TV series, "Remember WENN." The Helen Hayes Theatre Company was previously known as the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center. Performances continue to March 24.
Playbill On-Line first reported Gifford's casting on Jan. 16. The actress- singer-personality is known to millions as the erstwhile daytime talk show partner of Regis Philbin.
The play concerns two women from different walks of life who come face to face with a (naturally) "devilishly clever" murderer.
"I tried to do something that hadn't been done before," Holmes told Playbill On-Line. "In this form" — meaning the thriller, a genre Holmes admits to being smitten with — "there are lots of showcases for two men, but not many for two women." Gifford plays "a delightfully devious diva" who once had a thriving career in films, then slumped, and is now making a comeback in television. The other major character, played by Diana Canova (of "Soap" fame), is a female Sheriff in the small Vermont town where the play is set (there is an isolated cabin involved, rest assured). The Sheriff is on the trail of a serial killer, whose perverse predilection — he cuts off people's thumbs — gives the play its title. Holmes called Thumbs "a mystery comedy." "It's not just a whodunnit, but a whydunnit," added Holmes. Holmes is the songwriter-librettist of Drood, which ran for 608 performances on Broadway. He followed that up with the thriller, Accomplice, which had a brief run on Broadway, but has enjoyed a healthy life in summer stock and community theatres. Holmes is also, of course, the man who gave the world the number-one pop hit, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)." He is currently developing the new Strouse-Adams musical Marty.
The Helen Hayes is located at 117 Main Street in Nyack, north of New York City. For reservations, call (845) 358-6333.
—By Robert Simonson and Kenneth Jones