Theatre and cabaret star Liliane Montevecchi is now riding the broom left vacant after Eartha Kitt departed the Madison Square Garden tour of The Wizard of Oz.
The tour, which had canceled several fall dates, resumed Dec. 26 at Philadelphia's Forrest Theatre and officially opens Dec. 29, with Montevecchi as the Wicked Witch of the West.
The show, which still co-stars Mickey Rooney as the Wizard, has also added new tour dates, including a return to New York City's Madison Square Garden in May 1999.
Montevecchi, who won a Tony and a Drama Desk Award as Liliane La Fleur in Nine and was Tony-nominated for Grand Hotel, will sing "The Jitterbug" on tour, as Kitt did. The song was cut from the 1939 classic film that inspired the current tour. The ominous big-band-style tune was not sung by Roseanne when she created the MSG Wicked Witch role two years ago.
Most recently, Montevecchi played Solange in the Paper Mill Playhouse's revival of Follies. A well-known cabaret singer and former ballet dancer, Montevecchi also worked under a seven year contract at MGM in movies including Moonfleet, Daddy Long Legs, The Sad Sack, The Young Lions and King Creole. The 1998 tour began in March in Rosemont, IL, and starred Mickey Rooney as the Wizard, Kitt, Lara Teeter (Scarecrow), Ken Page (The Cowardly Lion), Dirk Lumbard (Tin Man) and Jessica Grove (Dorothy). It returned to The Theater at Madison Square Garden spring 1998.
Rooney, Lumbard and Grove will all reprise their roles with the addition of Francis Ruivivar, a veteran of Miss Saigon, who will take over the Cowardly Lion, and Casey Colgon, the production's original "Lead Tree," who replaces Teeter as the Scarecrow.
This new tour will continue from Philadelphia (Dec. 26-Jan.10) through the following cities:
Jan. 15-24, 1999: Minneapolis, MN, Orpheum Theatre
Jan. 28-Feb. 7, 1999: Boston, MA, Wang Center for the Performing Arts
Feb. 11-21: Cleveland, OH, Allen Theatre
Feb. 25-Mar. 14: Washington, DC, National Theater
Mar. 18-28: Chicago, IL, Rosemont Theatre
Mar. 31-Apr. 11: Detroit, MI, Fox Theatre
Apr. 21-25: Atlanta, GA, Civic Center
Apr. 28-May 2: Wallingford, CT, Oakdale Theatre
May 5-16: New York, NY, The Theatre at Madison Square Garden
May 20-23: TBA
May 26-30, 1999: Des Moines, Civic Center
June 3-13, 1999: Tempe, AZ, Gammage Center
June 16-July 4, 1999: Los Angeles, CA, Pantages Theatre
July 9-18, 1999: Costa Mesa, CA, Orange County Performing Arts Center
Additional cities are expected to be announced.