The national tour of Tallulah starring Kathleen Turner has been welcomed in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Boston, Baltimore, Philly and Palm Beach, FL, in fall 2000, but there appears to be no room on Broadway this coming spring, so producers are bumping her to fall 2001.
The original plan of producers SFX Theatrical Group and James L. Nederlander was to have the solo show about the famously raunchy, reckless actress on Broadway in time for the Tony nomination cutoff, but no "appropriate" Broadway houses are available, they announced.
A spokesperson for the continuing national tour said that some dates may be added. The last scheduled regional booking is at the Palace Theatre in Columbus, OH, March 6-11, 2001.
The Sandra Ryan Heyward play is undergoing some creative augmentations by writer Paul Selig, who gets an "additional material by" credit. Otherwise, the creative team remains the same going into the New Year.
* Michael Lessac directs the Heyward play, which spotlights film actress Turner ("Romancing the Stone," "Body Heat") playing the elegant, heavy-lidded actress as she prepares to host a fundraiser for incumbent president Harry S. Truman. As she fusses and frets over every detail of the party, Tallulah sips champagne and divulges secrets and passions in her life. Her wardrobe will be by Bob Mackie, who outfitted Cher, Carol Burnett and others in his high-profile, glam-friendly career. His work is currently seen Off-Broadway in Pete 'n' Kelly, a spoof of TV variety specials.
Turner — no stranger to the stage, in Broadway's Indiscretions and London's recent The Graduate — performed Tallulah in an earlier U.S. staging in 1999 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami and in its 1997 world premiere at the Chichester Festival Theatre in Sussex, England. Heyward has made revisions for the 2000-2001 production, and it is being further developed with material by Selig.
Producers of the tour and Broadway stay of Tallulah are SFX Theatrical Group Inc., James L. Nederlander in association with Duncan C. Weldon and Tony Fantozzi.
Director Lessac's credits include TV's "The Drew Carey Show" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."
In 2001, the tour will visit the Majestic Theatre in Dallas (Jan. 9-14), Curran Theatre in San Francisco (Jan. 16 Feb. 11), the Fisher Theatre in Detroit (Feb. 13-March 4) and the Palace Theatre in Columbus, OH (March 6-11).
Bankhead (1903-1968) is perhaps best known for her Broadway stints in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, and Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth (and was notoriously heckled as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire). Bankhead also starred in Alfred Hitchcock's 1944 film, "Lifeboat," as a glamorous lady journalist-castaway. The Southern-born, gimlet-eyed actress lived a high life and was considered something of a survivor despite her frayed edges.
Kathleen Turner made her Broadway debut as a replacement in the long running Albert Innaurato comedy, Gemini. Since then, she's been nominated for a Tony for her portrayal of "Maggie the Cat" in the 1990 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and appeared in the 1995 production of Jean Cocteau's Indiscretions.
With her trademark husky voice, Turner came to Hollywood attention in the 1981 film "Body Heat," leading to sexy siren roles in films like "V.I. Warshawski," "The Man With Two Brains," and "Prizzi's Honor." Other roles include "Serial Mom," "Romancing the Stone," "The War of the Roses," "Crimes of Passion" and the recent "Baby Geniuses." Turner received an Oscar nomination for her lead role in the Francis Ford Coppola 1986 film, "Peggy Sue Got Married." She's currently featured in "The Virgin Suicides."
Tallulah is something of a trend this season: On Sept. 19, the actress Tovah Feldshuh began Off-Broadway previews for a three-character show, Tallulah Hallelujah! at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre. It takes place during a USO benefit in which headliner Ella Fitzgerald is delayed, so Tallulah "vamps" and tells her story in song and anecdote (with the assistance of a pianist who turns out to be Meredith Willson, played by Bob Goldstone, and a young G.I., played by Mark Deklin). The script is by Feldshuh, with additional material by Larry Amoros and Linda Selman. William Wesbrooks directs. It closes Dec. 31.
The shows have nothing to do with another project, Tallulah's Party, which featured Feldshuh a couple seasons about Off-Broadway. Helen Gallagher has also played the actress in past, unrelated show.
Also, Off-Off-Broadway this season is the Tallulah-related play, Dahling, a new eight-actor play by Nana Schmid, began Oct. 19 at the Grove Street Playhouse. The New York premiere of Nan Schmid's play — which uses Bankhead's famous drawled term of endearment as its title — being billed as "not a one-woman show," in response to the Broadway-bound Kathleen Turner solo vehicle. It has since closed.
— By Kenneth Jones