Matthew Broderick and Judy Parfitt begin rehearsals Jan. 5 for the National Actors Theatre revival of Emlyn Williams' Night Must Fall, beginning Broadway previews Feb. 2 toward a Feb. 21 opening at the Lyceum Theatre.
The limited run is expected to continue to April 11, 1999, after which Broderick has a commitment to appear in Horton Foote's The Death of Papa May 27-June 27, 1999 at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut. (The first preview and opening dates of Night were both pushed up a week from earlier, tentative plans, though the April 11 closing date has remained the same.)
The 1935 Williams thriller will be directed by John Tillinger (Broadway's Getting and Spending and The Sunshine Boys). Dry and tart British actress Parfitt ("Dolores Claiborne," "The Jewel in the Crown") will make her Broadway debut as Mrs. Bramson, a matron who takes a suspected killer (Broderick, playing against type) under her wing.
National Actors Theatre general manager Fred Walker previously told Playbill On-Line that no matter how positive potential reviews are, there can be no extension with Broderick in the role because of his Hartford gig. Broderick's previous Broadway stand was in the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, for which he earned a Tony Award. Other theatre credits include Master Harold...And The Boys and Torch Song Trilogy.
The Night Must Fall company includes Michael Countryman, Seana Kofoed, Patricia Kilgarriff, Peter McRobbie, Jennifer Wiltsie and Pamela J. Gray. Designers are James Noone (sets), Jess Goldstein (costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lights) and Aural Fixation (sound).
For ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.
After a London staging in 1935, Night Must Fall premiered at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 1936. Director-playwright Williams also played the lead role of Dan (the Broderick role), a bellboy in a resort town hired as a servant by Mrs. Bramson. Mrs. Bramson's niece is suspicious of Dan, following a local murder.
Other plays by (George) Emlyn Williams include The Corn is Green and The Druid's Rest. A 1937 film version of Night Must Fall starred Rosalind Russell.
Tony Randall has singlemindedly and tirelessly boosted the nonprofit NAT, which he founded in the early 1990s as a way of getting the finest contemporary actors to perform seldom-seen classics and stretch their acting muscles.
Some of the productions have been successful, including a recent Randall-Jack Klugman teaming on The Sunshine Boys, and Brian Bedford in Shakespeare's Timon of Athens. But the company has struggled. A lauded 1996 revival of Inherit the Wind with George C. Scott and Charles Durning closed prematurely when Scott developed problems with his health and personal life. Randall understudied his part.
NAT's recent revival of The Gin Game performed to half-full houses despite the presence of Durning and Julie Harris. Nevertheless, Gin Game is touring nationally with Durning and Harris, having started Oct. 27 in Raleigh-Durham NC.
The Chicago stop of the show in 1998 earned the leads Joseph Jefferson Awards. The Gin Game travels to a dozen cities through spring 1999.