The busy actor has spent the last month acting opposite playwright and actor Sam Shepard in the praised New York premiere of Caryl Churchill's A Number at New York Theater Workshop. He plays three different characters in the work, about a father who discovers that the doctors he hired to clone his son long ago created 19 other versions as well.
Shepard will exit the mounting on Jan. 16, but Roberts will still probably see him around from time to time; this week the rising talent was named to play Tom in the coming Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' classic The Glass Menagerie. He will share the stage with Jessica Lange, who has shared a home and life with Shepard for the last couple decades. The production, directed by David Leveaux, will inhabit the Barrymore Theatre come February.
Leveaux had been searching for his Tom for some time, as has been well documented by the New York Post, which ran several columns about a failed attempt to secure the talents of Tobey Maguire. Other actors mentioned for the part include Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke and John Cusack, none of whom were ever officially confirmed. Producers reportedly wanted a bankable star to play the tortured young man, a stand-in for Williams. Roberts isn't quite that, though he recently made an impression in "A Home at the End of the World." (Ruminations on how Roberts was cast conjures up many a tantalizing scenario. Did Roberts ask Shepard to secure him an audition?; did Shepard, impressed by the young man, suggest his name to Lange over dinner?; did Leveaux take in A Number and jump up, shouting "Eureka!"? There's a theatre legend in the making here.)
As for the rest of the cast, Sarah Paulson has been mentioned, but not confirmed for Laura. Still to be cast is the Gentleman Caller. But, then, isn't the Gentleman Caller casting always the last thing to be taken care of every time a major revival of Menagerie comes around?
*** The new Broadway-bound revival of Sweet Charity got two more cast members for Christmas. Ernie Sabella, Broadway veteran of such musical revivals as Guys and Dolls and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, will play Herman. And Rhett George (Aida, Wicked) is hep cat evangelist Big Daddy. Both characters get to sing one big song. Herman, proprietor of the dance hall Charity works in, belts outs the 11-o'clock number "I Love to Cry at Weddings." The cameo part of Big Daddy, meanwhile, owns the show stopper, "Rhythm of Life." The production is headed by Christina Applegate as Charity and Denis O'Hare as Oscar. Truth to tell, the staging probably has secured its entire cast—it begins rehearsals on Dec. 27—But the roster hasn't been officially announced.
Two new shows will spend the holiday working out the kinks during previews. The Broadway-bound Chicago world premiere of Monty Python's Spamalot, starring Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria, began on Dec. 21. Broadway previews begin at the Shubert Theatre in Manhattan Feb. 14, 2005 toward an opening March 17, 2005. And there's absolutely no chance of a White Christmas at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill, where the cast of the Beach Boys musical Good Vibrations began celebrating sun, sand, surf and song on Dec. 20.
Finally, Andrew Lloyd Webber received one of his best gifts in years. After decades of trying, a film version of his megamusical The Phantom of the Opera hit selected U.S. screens on Dec. 22. It will open nationwide Jan. 21, 2005. It recently nabbed three Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy. Critics did not love the flick, directed by Joel Schumacher. But you can't get everything on your wish list.
To everyone in the theatre community, especially those sacrificing souls putting in shows on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a very Happy Holiday!