Lewis J. Stadlen, whose recent New York credits include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Mizlansky/Zilinsky will take over the role of D.W. DeWitt in the Broadway comedy, Epic Proportions. Spokespersons weren't yet sure when Stadlen would join the cast, though it's likely to be within two to three weeks.
Stadlen replaces character actor Richard B. Shull, 70, who died of a heart attack Oct. 14. Larry Cahn, Mr. Shull's standby, went on that night and has continued in the role ever since. The character of DeWitt is that of a distracted, cynical movie mogul in charge of a Biblical epic, but more interested in screening blue films as a way of escaping the pressures of movie making.
Epic Proportions plays at the Helen Hayes Theatre. The casting news is likely to come as a pleasant surprise to those who have been worrying about the show's future. Because available Broadway theatres are so scarce, Epic Proportions' generally poor reviews and declining box office grosses -- the show took in $110,205 and filled only 56.4 percent of its seats for the week ending Oct. 24 -- have made it a target of industry speculation as to whether it can build an audience.
Stadlen, a Tony nominee for both the Forum revival and Candide, also appeared in Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Olympus on my Mind and Signature Theatre's mounting of Arthur Miller's The American Clock.
Larry Coen and David Crane's comedy also features Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth and a number of other actors known for their comedic work: Alan Tudyk, Ruth Williamson and Ross Lehman. The show is produced by Brent Peek, Mark Schwartz, Bob Cuillo, Bob Barandes and Matthew Farrell. Designing the show are David Gallo (set), who also designed Bunny Bunny; Paul Gallo (lighting), William Ivey Long (costumes) and Aural Fixation (sound).
A look at Hollywood during the Studio Era, Epic Proportions takes place on the set of a 1930s Biblical epic. Chenoweth, Davidson and Tudyk are three sides of a love triangle; most of the actors play "a cast of thousands."
Coen and Crane penned the script three years ago but were waiting for Zaks to come available to direct. Co-author Crane is the co-creator of the TV sitcoms "Friends" and "Veronica's Closet" and serves as executive producer on "Jesse."
Tickets to Epic Proportions are on sale via Telecharge (212) 239- 6200.