Following the widely-reported news that Fran Drescher was set to star in the comedy Sweet Deliverance on Broadway this season came weeks of limbo, with no further word on the progress of the project. Word eventually came from Drescher's representatives at the Gersh Agency that the show would definitely not arrive this season, with future plans -- and even Drescher's connection to the show -- somewhat unclear.
Spokespersons at the David Rothenberg press agency, which reps the production, now say the show is completely dead, with producer Alexander Cohen no longer attached to the project. Cohen was initially hoping to bring the play, by Eric Houston, to Broadway in fall 1999. By August, the target was spring 2000.
Months earlier, spokesperson Rothenberg told Playbill On-Line Drescher, of "The Nanny" fame, had officially signed on to the project. No further casting has been announced. Producer Cohen optioned the comedy in early spring 1999. A reading of the play, with Drescher, was held in New York July 12, 1999.
Cohen said Drescher was to play a hospital intern who transforms herself into "an amalgam of Dr. Kevorkian and Martha Stewart." He also said David Warren, who staged the Roundabout's Hurrah At Last, was in discussions to direct.
Sweet Deliverance was workshopped in 1994 as part of Barter Theatre of Abingdon, VA's Early Stages program. Niko Associates/Carl Pasbjerg serve as General Managers on the project. Producer Cohen, whose current anniversary production of Noel Coward's Waiting in the Wings moved from the Walter Kerr Theatre to the Eugene O'Neill Feb. 17, appeared in his own Off-Broadway show last winter. In Star Billing, Cohen reflected on his theatrical successes (including Richard Burton's Hamlet, John Gielgud's School for Scandal, Harold Pinter's The Homecoming), his inevitable flops, as well as some of the infamous feuds he's had over the years, with names like Jerry Lewis, Marlene Dietrich, and the Shuberts.
The 78-year old Cohen began his producing career 57 years ago, when his Angel Street opened in 1941. Cohen also produced the televised Tony Awards for 20 years, as well as three "Night of 100 Stars" specials. He has received countless awards including a Tony, Emmy, Oscar, Theatre World's Showman of the Year, The Shubert Foundation Award and numerous others.
-- By David Lefkowitz