Estelle Parsons has stepped out of the world premiere of James Lapine's The Moment When, for Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan, and Phyllis Newman joined rehearsals for the play, set to begin previews Feb. 19 (recently pushed up from Feb. 18).
Parsons (of filmdom's "Bonnie and Clyde" and TV's "Roseanne") had a scheduling conflict, according to a spokesman, so now Newman (Subways Are For Sleeping, Shyster, A Majority of One) will take on the role of a New York agent in a play whose description sounds very New Yorky indeed.
The world premiere drama written by Lapine, and directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, will star Arija Bareikis as a novelist, Mark Ruffalo as a hot-shot book jacket illustrator, Illeana Douglas as an agent's young assistant, Kieran Culkin and Ann Harada.
In The Moment When, according to production notes, "a hotshot book jacket artist, a novelist and an agent's assistant meet at a quintessential literary soiree. Their lives become inexorably linked, and forever changed. Over the course of fifteen years, families are formed and unformed, careers are made and unmade, and lives are uprooted in pursuit of an elusive happiness."
Official opening is set for March 12. Performances continue to March 26. Bareikis appeared in The Last Night of Ballyhoo and "Snow Falling On Cedars," Culkin acted in the film, "The Cider House Rules," Douglas starred in the Fox TV series, "Action," Ruffalo was a fried twentysomething in Off-Broadway's This Is Our Youth, and Harada appeared in Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall, a 1999 cabaret spoof in which she and another Asian actress played understudies forced to go on for Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews in their famed 1962 Carnegie Hall show.
Lapine is fresh off directing and co-conceiving Off-Broadway's Dirty Blonde, written by Claudia Shear. As a librettist, Lapine (and Stephen Sondheim) won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Sunday in the Park With George, which began at Playwrights Horizons. He directed and wrote Passion (with Stephen Sondheim), Table Settings, Twelve Dreams and Luck, Pluck and Virtue, and directed Wendy Kesselman's new adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, on Broadway. With William Finn, he collaborated on A New Brain and the Off-Broadway shows March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, later produced on Broadway as Falsettos.
Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg staged Broadway productions of Agnes of God and Whose Life is It Anyway?, and the original production of The Normal Heart at The Public Theater.
Tickets to The Moment When are $37.50. Playwrights Horizons produces in its Anne G. Wilder Theater, 416 W. 42nd St. For information, call (212) 279-4200,or visit the website at www.playwrightshorizons.org.
-- By Kenneth Jones