Variety reported June 12 that Kristen Johnston would star as the ultra bitchy Sylvia Fowler in the Roundabout Theatre Company's fall production of Clare Boothe Luce's The Women, directed by Scott Elliott. A spokesman for the Roundabout would not confirm Johnston's involvement, saying casting was still underway. The Women will run at the American Airlines Theatre in November.
Fowler is the most vindictive gossip in the nasty flock of vultures that peoples Luce's comedy. The role was played by Ilka Chase in the original 1936 Broadway staging and Rosalind Russell filled the part in the 1939 film.
Since the termination of her long-running sitcom, "Third Rock from the Sun," Johnston has returned to the theatre in a big way. In addition to The Women, she will spend this summer in The Smell of the Kill, a black comedy by Michele Lowe set to play the Berkshire Theatre Festival. The play may eventually land in New York City. Christopher Ashley will direct Kate Finneran and Claudia Shear also star in the piece, which runs July 31-Aug. 11.
Ashley, speaking to Playbill On-Line at the Tony Nominees Luncheon at Manhattan's Marriott Marquis on May 16, said producers Nelle Nugent and Elizabeth McCann have long been attached to the project and that if all goes well the plan is to move the show to Manhattan sometime in 2001. In The Smell of the Kill, three wives plan revenge on their complacent, golf-loving husbands.
* In other news, Roundabout Theatre Company associate artistic director Scott Ellis has been tapped to direct the upcoming revival of Rodgers and Hart's The Boys From Syracuse at the nonprofit. The tuner will play the American Airlines Theatre in spring 2002. Specific dates haven't been selected. No cast members have been named.
Ellis has directed many productions at the Roundabout in the past, including She Loves Me and The Rainmaker.
Adapted from Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors and said to be the first musical based on one of his works, Syracuse opened at the Alvin on Broadway in fall 1939. That production was directed by George Abbott and choreographed by George Balanchine. Eddie Albert, Betty Bruce, Teddy Hart, noted singer Burl Ives, Wynn Murray and vaudevillian Jimmy Savo starred.
The Boys from Syracuse featured the songs "Falling in Love with You," and "This Can't Be Love."
Noted revivals of Syracuse include an Off-Broadway run in 1963 and a London production at the Drury Lane in 1964.
Other productions already announced for the 2001-02 Roundabout season include a new staging of George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara, directed by Daniel Sullivan; and a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins at the Booth Theatre, directed by Joe Mantello. Previews for the latter will begin Nov. 1 with an opening on Nov. 29.
Cherry Jones will star as the title character in the Shaw, to be directed by Daniel Sullivan. She'll play opposite English actor David Warner.
Shaw's comedy-drama will begin previews June 15 and open July 12 at the American Airlines Theatre for a run through Sept. 2. Designers for the show include John Lee Beatty (set), Jane Greenwood (costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lighting).
Jones will play Barbara Undershaft, the idealistic Salvation Army worker who continues her good works even though her father is the egotistical and maddeningly well-spoken munitions industrialist Andrew Undershaft. The latter character is one of the greatest and most entertaining in all of Shaw. Actress Jones told Newsday, "The thing about Undershaft is that he has to have all these different facets, this civility and gentleness and calm, and yet he expresses these horrific ideas, which are also persuasive. I am beside myself with excitement about the entire cast."
That cast also includes Dana Ivey (The Death of Papa at CT's Hartford Stage), Zak Orth (Misalliance) and Denis O'Hare (Cabaret). (The latter will again be directed by Daniel Sullivan when Ten Unknowns moves from the Mitzi Newhouse to Broadway this fall).