Recently, it was announced that some well-known names will follow Eve Ensler into Off-Broadway's Vagina Monologues. Among the actresses confirmed for two-week stints in the show are Rosie Perez, Swoosie Kurtz, Audra McDonald, Mary Alice, Julie Kavner and Amy Irving.
Now, the producers of the Off-Broadway hit are tempting audiences with other names. A large ad for the show in the Jan. 21 New York Times said "Beginning Feb. 8, three of the amazing women listed above will share the microphone at every performance. All these women will perform the monologues in the coming months."
Among the listed actresses are such theatre vets, young and old, as Kathleen Chalfant, Elizabeth Franz, Mo Gaffney, Hazelle Goodman, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Kristen Johnston, Jane Krakowski, Patti LuPone, Camryn Manheim, Andrea Martin, Donna Murphy, Kathy Najimy, Lois Smith, Marisa Tomei and Shirley Knight.
Also listed are film and television talents including Winona Ryder ("Girl, Interrupted"), Gina Gershon ("Snoops"), Rhea Perlman ("Cheers"), Marlo Thomas ("That Girl"), Julianna Margulies ("ER"), Lara Flynn Boyle ("The Practice," "Happiness") and talk show host Ricki Lake.
Perhaps the three most unusual women to be connected with the play are journalist Linda Ellerbee, novelist Erica Jong ("Fear of Flying") and pop sensation Alanis Morissette ("Bitter Little Pill"). While Ensler has always done the show as a solo, the coming performers will appear in trios and remain in the show for two-weeks, according to a press spokesman. No scheduling beyond the first two groups has been announced. The set schedule will run as follows:
Feb. 8-20: Julie Kavner, Swoosie Kurtz and Audra McDonald.
Feb. 22-March 5: Mary Alice, Rosie Perez and Amy Irving.
Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues, starring Ensler herself, returned to New York the Westside Theatre Oct. 3, after previews from Sept. 21. Vagina reveals a series of different women's stories and experiences involving their genitalia. The piece was born when playwright Ensler realized that her work, mostly about women, was missing a physiological connection. Ensler told PBOL,"I couldn't be thinking about [liberating women] without thinking about vaginas. I wanted to know about what women were feeling about their vaginas. As I talked to women, I was so awed and amazed by what people were telling me that I began to think, 'there's a [theatre] piece here.'"
Joe Mantello, who staged Love! Valour! Compassion! on Broadway, serves as production supervisor on the solo.
Kavner, the voice of Marge Simpson on "The Simpsons," appeared in Craig Lucas' God's Heart Off-Broadway. Kurtz recently starred on Broadway in Paula Vogel's The Mineola Twins, while McDonald just wrapped up a starring turn in Marie Christine at Lincoln Center Theater.
Veteran actress Mary Alice won a Tony Award for Fences. Perez is best known as a film actress, with credits including "Do the Right Thing" and "It Could Happen to You." Finally, Amy Irving was last seen on the New York stage in Arthur Miller's Broken Glass.
$10 of each ticket sold to The Vagina Monologues will go to the V Day Initiative.
For information on the Westside engagement, call (212) 239-6200.
-- By Robert Simonson