Two-time Tony nominee Millicent Martin (Side by Side by Sondheim, King of Hearts) will star as Jane in the world premiere of Lee Pockriss-Hal Hackady musical What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, playing Oct. 8-17 at Houston's Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
Martin also starred on Broadway in 1954's The Boy Friend and as a replacement Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street at the Majestic Theatre. Her film credits include "Nothing But the Best," "Stop the World — I Want to Get Off" and "Alfie." Recently, she's played Gertrude, Daphne's mother, on TV's "Fraiser."
In What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, a twisted psychological profile of show business gone mad, former child vaudevillian Baby Jane (Bette Davis, in the 1962 film) becomes caretaker for her movie star sister Blanche (Joan Crawford on screen) when the latter has a mysterious crippling accident. Encased in hideous pancake make-up and in a precarious mental condition, Jane torments and tortures her sister, while Blanche tries desperately to escape.
The musical has been in development for eight years under British producer Michael Rose, who will take the show to the next step beyond Houston. The show had a London workshop and a full concert reading in Brighton.
The nonprofit musical theatre troupe Theatre Under the Stars had previously hoped to stage the dark musical version of the 1960 novel (and subsequent Warner Bros. film) in 2001, but the production was delayed for various reasons. The property's novelist and screenwriter, Henry Farrell, wrote the libretto. Pockriss (Tovarich) is the composer and Hackady (Goodtime Charley, Minnie's Boys) is lyricist. Pockriss' pop songs include "Catch a Falling Star" and "Johnny Angel" and he also wrote songs for the musicals, Ernest in Love and Tovarich. Hackady penned lyrics to Snoopy!!!, Little By Little and the still-developing science fiction musical, Barsoom.
London-based American director David Taylor will helm. His previous work includes the West End's They're Playing Our Song starring Tom Conti and Gemma Craven and The Prisoner of Second Avenue with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason. Dan Siretta (Some Like It Hot) will be the choreographer. Designers are Eduardo Sicangco (set) and Richard Winkler (lighting).
For Theatre Under the Stars ticket information, call (713) 558-8887 or (888) 558-3882 or visit http://www.tuts.com.
— By Christine Ehren
and Kenneth Jones