Did any show ever have as many twists and turns as producer David Richenthal's long-planned Broadway mounting of Long Day's Journey Into Night?
The latest news, posted Sept. 17 in Variety, is that the ever evolving staging may star Vanessa Redgrave as Mary Tyrone. Dennehy would play James Tyrone, as he did in a 2001 staging at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, which had been poised for a Broadway transfer, but stalled last spring.
At last report, director Robert Falls was still attached to the project. Falls, Dennehy and Richenthal are the team that gave Broadway the Tony winning revival of Death of a Salesman. This past May, it seemed the trio—which has been laboring toward a Broadway Journey for almost two years—had dissolved their association. However, Richenthal soon made it clear that the partnership remained solid.
Though Richenthal seems particularly attached to Dennehy, sources close to the matter say much depends on the casting of the play's three other primary roles. The Chicago Journey starred the Mary Tyrone of Pamela Payton-Wright, and Steve Pickering and David Cromer as the sons James Tyrone, Jr. and Edmund Tyrone—good actors all, but perhaps not of the star caliber needed to support a Broadway mounting. Names like Jessica Lange, Robert Sean Leonard and Billy Crudup were once floated for the Chicago staging.
Redgrave is, along with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, one of the leading actresses of London theatre. She last acted on Broadway in Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending in a grand performance that divided critics. Since then, she has appeared Off Broadway in Vita and Virginia, with Eileen Atkins, and Antony and Cleopatra at the Public Theater. *
Journey's journey to Broadway has been a bumpy and dramatic one. For more than a year, Dennehy remained the only announced star of the much-hyped, Broadway-bound venture. Then followed a murky business about which Journey would make it to Broadway first—the Goodman's or a London mounting, produced by Bill Kenwright and starring Jessica Lange. The showdown came to an end when Richenthal revealed he had been talking about the project "for several years" with Falls. Furthermore, he held the rights to produce Journey on Broadway.
For a while, it looked like the Goodman show might be a hybrid of both stagings. According to news accounts, Kenwright and the Goodman were to co-produce the play, with Falls directing, Dennehy as James Tyrone and Lange as Mary Tyrone. Kenwright countered by calling the idea of a Kenwright-Richenthal venture "pure fantasy." Nonetheless, Falls openly courted Lange for the mounting for a while. Falls also mentioned that Philip Seymour Hoffman and Billy Crudup were in contention to play the two Tyrone sons. Robert Sean Leonard was also sought for a role at one point.