Nora Ephron's playwriting debut, Imaginary Friends, begins Broadway previews Nov. 25 at the Barrymore Theatre.
The play with music, which made its world premiere at San Diego's The Globe Theatre in September, officially opens on Broadway Dec. 12, with Cherry Jones and Swoosie Kurtz respectively starring as personal and literary rivals Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman.
Harry Groener (Crazy For You) and Anne Pitoniak (Dance of Death) also star in the play, with Anne Allgood (The Sound of Music), Constance Barron, Bernard Dotson (Sweet Smell of Success), Rosena M. Hill (Ragtime), Gina Lamparella (Jane Eyre), Dirk Lumbard (On Your Toes), Peter Marx (Annie Get Your Gun), Jim Osorno (The Rocky Horror Show), Perry Ojeda (On the Town), Karyn Quackenbush (Annie Get Your Gun) and Melanie Vaughan (Parade).
Four-time Tony Award nominee Jack O'Brien (The Full Monty, The Invention of Love) directs the production with Hairspray cohort Jerry Mitchell choreographing. 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.) 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.
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 ($55-$90) to Imaginary Friends, at the Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th Street, call Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250 or visit them online at www.telecharge.com. Also visit the show's website at www.imaginaryfriendsonbroadway.com.