The fairer sex dominated the news this past week. Though, because we're talking about the salty Elaine Stritch, the treacherous Mrs. Robinson and the feline creations of Clare Booth Luce, "fairer" may not be the most appropriate adjective. Still, the women of The Women, which the Roundabout Theatre Company opened on Nov. 8, do cap off the show with a loudly feminine curtain call draped in frilly lingerie and cascading bubbles. (A touch, one would imagine, more the work of costume designer Isaac Mizrahi, than director Scott Elliott. Or perhaps the cast, which includes Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Johnston, Jennifer Tilly and Amy Ryan, in a fit of pique, insisted upon it.) The show, a popular ticket, has been extended to Dec. 30.
Extended, too, are the personal and professional reminiscences of Elaine Stritch, officially titled At Liberty and running at the Public Theater. The extension, for a full month at five shows a week, came mere hours after the solo show opened. But the move was widely expected long before then, as the show was always widely regarded as a guaranteed success. And, since your average theatregoer would rather listen to a few barbed comments from Stritch than a truckload of wisdom from most anybody else (even at the bumped-up price of $65), further extensions are not unlikely.
A few decades ago, Stritch might have made a good Mrs. Robinson. But, as its 2001, Kathleen Turner got the part in the stage version of Mike Nichols' classic 1967 film The Graduate. Turner achieved a Nicole Kidman-like success in London earlier this year by letting her towel drop for a split second in the play's seduction scene. Now, she's set to strut about in the (dimly-lit) altogether in Baltimore, Toronto and Boston, the pre-Broadway itinerary for the show. Jason Biggs and Alicia Silverstone will play her unfortunate young lover and daughter, respectively. Turner had hoped to attain a Broadway berth this season playing the Luce-ian actress Tallulah Bankhead, but that one person show petered out in San Francisco. The Graduate seems much more likely to meet its April 4 Broadway opening date. Turner previously lounged about in little in Broadway's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Indiscretions.
The women of Broadway's The Full Monty — Annie Golden, Emily Skinner, etc. — will stay behind while the show's men go gallivanting off to London. That is, all the men save Patrick Wilson, who left last week to star in a USO tour and then begin rehearsals for Oklahoma!. But the rest of the blue-collar strippers— Romain Fruge, Jason Danieley, John Ellison Conlee, Marcus Neville and Andre de Shields — will open in the West End premiere of the musical in spring 2002. Taking their place will be the cast of The Full Monty tour; good news for them, since that tour suddenly shut down a few weeks ago, throwing the actors out of work.
Speaking of men, the most famous one in the theatre, Nathan Lane, is back in The Producers, but only six-eighths of the time. Lane dropped out of the show last week after a polyp was discovered on his left vocal cord. He returned after a week of vocal rest, but his doctor advised him to only perform one show a week — at least for the next fortnight. Lane is widely regarded as a trooper, but one wonders whether Elaine Stritch wouldn't have brusquely ignored that doctor's advice and charged on. Then again, look what happened to her voice.