Finally rested up from her supporting turn as an ambitious secretary in David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow on Broadway in 1988, Madonna is planning to bookend her solitary Broadway credit with a solitary West End credit. (She's English now, you know, after marrying a Brit.) The Material Girl—who (you've got to hand it to her) has never given up on her acting aspirations despite critical drubbing after commercial drubbing—will play an ambitious art dealer trying to rachet up the price of a Jackson Pollack painting in Up for Grabs by David Williamson. The production will begin a ten-week run at London's Wyndham's Theatre on May 23. Someone named Boswell will play director to Madonna's Dr. Johnson.
Broadway's Cort and Booth theatres were drawn into an odd intrigue this week that has yet to fully emerge from the mists. Paper Doll, the comedy about the life and career of trash novelist Jacqueline Susann that stars Marlo Thomas and F. Murray Abraham, was to open at the Cort this spring. But, suddenly, producer Randall Wreghitt yanked it out of there, saying he was exploring options for a spring opening at an unnamed Broadway theatre. A lot of people thought that "unnamed Broadway theatre" meant the Booth, on which stage Bea Arthur is currently feeling very cozy and where I'm Not Rappaport had planned to set up its park bench before Tony time.
Paper Doll's hopes (if they ever existed) of storming the Booth didn't look good after Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends extended to March 31. And they evaporated altogether when Arthur's show became an open run—thus leaving both Doll and Rappaport homeless. Rappaport, already weak from losing producer Elizabeth Ireland McCann, took it on the chin and delayed its Broadway bow to the summer. There's still no word on Paper Doll's future.
Speaking of solo shows on Broadway, the Hartford Stage production of Tea at Five, starring Kate Mulgrew, may reach New York City this fall. Mulgrew—who plays Katherine Hepburn on stage for two hours—has been suffering from inflamed vocal chords, but apparently is not suffering enough to not want to risk her health again on a bigger stage. Broadway is the whispered goal.
It's hard to believe that that inveterate New Yorker Marjorie Taub, the depressive wife in question in the hit Broadway play, The Tale of Allergist's Wife, would step foot in Los Angeles, but sources close to the New York production say the show will have a summer stay at the Ahmanson Theatre. The Charles Busch comedy has been doing so well lately on Broadway that it may well continue to run for months at the Barrymore Theatre, meaning perhaps a second company would form to tour, perhaps beginning in L.A. Another scenario has the Broadway company ending happily in the black and putting original cast members, including Tony Roberts and Michele Lee, into the June 22-Aug. 11 L.A. run, launching a tour. After a disastrous 2001, in which the sudden departure of artistic director Douglas Hughes led to the defection of several booked stars and the reshuffling of much of the season, the Long Wharf Theatre is regrouping rather well under new head, Gordon Edelstein. Jane Alexander will bring a trimmed-down version of one of Eugene O'Neill's most daunting works, Mourning Becomes Electra, to the Connecticut theatre in the fall of 2002. The production is directed by Edelstein. The 2002-03 will also include a new double-bill from Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies entitled Two Days. The evening will pair his July 7, 1994 with a world premiere one-act commissioned by the Long Wharf. It's a safe bet that either the O'Neill or the Margulies will make its way down to New York somehow.
The 2002 Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Awards were announced this week, an event that doesn't raise much of a ripple outside the So Cal theatre community. However, if I was a producer of the Broadway-bound Flower Drum Song, I'd pause and consider the reasons why that much ballyhooed production garnered only one nomination. And for Best Costumes!
Finally, if you heard that Tom Hewitt, lately of The Rocky Horror Show, had been cast in Jeffrey Hatcher's The Compleat Female Stage Beauty—a play about Edward Kynaston, the Restoration England stage actor who specialized in female roles—what role would you guess he would play? Well, you'd be wrong. The Sweet Transvestite will don the crown of King Charles II in the Globe Theatre's production. So much for typecasting.
—By Robert Simonson