Off-Broadway's WPA Theatre is taking extra time before opening the world premiere of Jim Luigs' Spread Eagle, starring Brian Murray. Due to the replacement of actress Roberta Maxwell, the official opening of the dark comedy has been bumped from Dec. 8 to Dec. 15, to allow for more rehearsal time.
Maxwell left the production for another opportunity, and was replaced in rehearsals by Patricia Kilgarriff (OB's Kindertransport, Bway's A Small Family Business) in the co-starring role of the best friend to Murray's character, an English actor who flees London's West End in favor of the steamy, tropical Mexico.
This is the second delay for the staging. The show began previews Nov. 27, instead of the previously-announced Nov. 24. The show is scheduled to play through Jan. 3, 1999. As in any new-play process, rewrites are also a part of the preview process.
Murray, a ubiquitous figure in New York theatre, has recently appeared on Broadway in Twelfth Night, The Little Foxes and Racing Demon and Off-Broadway in Da and Travels With My Aunt.
Author Luigs is best known for penning the Wagnerian musical spoof, Das Barbecu. Other works by author Luigs include Second Wind and the young people's play-with-music, Rock `n' Roles From William Shakespeare, now in its 11th season at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Also starring in Spread Eagle are Mark Dold, Graeme Malcolm, Steve Mones, Joe Quintero, Anne James and Matt Saldivar. Designing the show are Deb Booth (set), Frances Aronson (lighting), Ilona Symogia (costumes) and Bob Murray (sound).
Director Constance Grappo has staged On House and Century City for the WPA, as well as adapting and directing Hair for Connecticut Rep in 1996.
The WPA Theatre is located at 519 West 23rd Street. Tickets (at $35) and information are available by calling (212) 206-0523.
The WPA Theatre began its 22nd season with the Oct. 6 opening of Edward Napier's drama, 'Til the Rapture Comes, directed by Pamela Berlin. The production started previews Sept. 22 and ran through Oct. 25.
The season also includes:
*Blood on the Dining Room Floor , beginning performances May 17, 1999, a musical by composer Jonathan Sheffer based on Gertrude Stein's A Murder Mystery, written in 1933 when she shared a home in France with Alice B. Toklas. Excerpts from the Toklas cookbook are incorporated into the musical. Sheffer, a conductor and composer, wrote the film score to "Bloodhounds of Broadway" and "Encino Man," among others, and co wrote the musical comedy Going Hollywood with lyricist David Zippel.
*A production to be announced, slated for 1999.
The nonprofit Off-Broadway WPA Theatre (Workshop of the Players Arts Foundation, Inc.) is dedicated to the development of new American plays and musicals and the revival of neglected works. Of its 90 plays produced in 21 seasons, Nuts, Steel Magnolias, Little Shop of Horrors and Jeffrey, among others, sprang to national commercial attention. The WPA is currently represented with Off Broadway's commercial production of Dinah Was.