Cabaret and Seussical star Michele Pawk has joined the Broadway-caliber cast of Hollywood Arms, a new play by Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett to be directed by Harold Prince at Chicago's Goodman Theatre this spring.
The work also stars the previously announced Frank Wood (Side Man) and Linda Lavin (Tale of the Allergist's Wife).
The play, based on Burnett's best-selling memoir "One More Time," chronicles the life of a woman named Helen in a pre- and post-World War II Hollywood. The piece contains a cavalcade of characters including a pill-popping Christian Scientist grandmother (Lavin) who cares for the heroine after the divorce of her parents, a wide-eyed and distant mother who longs to be a celebrity interviewer (Pawk) and a recovering drunk father who wants to be the daddy he never was (Wood).
The central role of Helen will be played by nine-year-old Sara Niemietz as a young girl and Donna Lynne Champlin as an adult. Champlin has acted on Broadway in such works as the recent By Jeeves and James Joyce's The Dead.
The cast is completed by Steve Bukunas and Christian Kohn as Policemen, Patrick Clear as Bill, Emily Graham-Handley as Alice, Nicolas King as Malcolm and Barbara E. Robertson as Dixie. The play will run April 19-June 1, recently moved up from the originally announced fall 2000. Hollywood Arms replaces the previously-announced Amy Freed play The Beard of Avon; the latter will be rescheduled for the 2002 03 season. (The addition of the Burnett Hamilton play means the Goodman will present three productions in 2001-02 which will more than likely reach New York City soon after: The Visit from earlier fall 2001; the revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night starring Brian Dennehy; and, now, Hollywood Arms.)
Writer-director Hamilton, daughter of Burnett, died of cancer on Jan. 20. She started the ball rolling on the project. Hamilton was skeptical of taking on the adaptation alone, as she says in a release from the Goodman, "having only written screenplays, I didn’t think I’d be up to the task." So when mom Burnett suggested to co-write the play with her, she was "thrilled."
When Burnett sent a rough draft to "a close friend" for a personal suggestion on someone to helm the work, the friend volunteered himself. When the friend is 20-time Tony-winner Harold Prince, the mother daughter team could not pass up the opportunity. Prince who stated that he loves "working in the new Goodman," went to his friend, Goodman artistic director Robert Falls, and the final piece of the puzzle was set.
For more information on the Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn Street in Chicago, IL, call (312) 443-3800.