Tom Becket (Travels with My Aunt), Brad Bellamy, Brian Letscher, Hardy Rawls and Nicola Royston have been added to the cast of the world premiere of Thumbs, a new thriller by The Mystery of Edwin Drood author Rupert Holmes, starring Kathie Lee Gifford. The show will bow at the Helen Hayes Theatre Company (formerly the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center) in Nyack, NY, March 9 24.
Playbill On-Line first reported Gifford's casting on Jan. 16. The actress singer-personality is known to millions as the erstwhile daytime talk show partner of Regis Philbin.
The play concerns two women from different walks of life who come face to face with a (naturally) "devilishly clever" murderer.
"I tried to do something that hadn't been done before," Holmes told Playbill On-Line. "In this form"—meaning the thriller, a genre Holmes admits to being smitten with—"there are lots of showcases for two men, but not many for two women."
Gifford plays "a delightfully devious diva" who once had a thriving career in films, then slumped, and is now making a comeback in television. The other major character, played by Diana Canova (of "Soap" fame), is a female Sheriff in the small Vermont town where the play is set (there is an isolated cabin involved, rest assured). The Sheriff is on the trail of a serial killer, whose perverse predilection—he cuts off people's thumbs—gives the play its title. Holmes called Thumbs "a mystery comedy" "It's not just a whodunnit, but a whydunnit," added Holmes. Holmes is best known in theatre circles as the composer and librettist of the Dickens adaptation, Edwin Drood, which ran for 608 performance on Broadway in the mid-80s. He followed that up with the thriller Accomplice, which had a brief run on Broadway, but has enjoyed a healthy life in summer stock and community theatres. Holmes is also, of course, the man who gave the world the number-one pop hit, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" and the "Remember WENN" TV series. He is currently developing the new Strouse-Adams musical Marty.
The Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center is located at 117 Main Street in Nyack. For reservations, call (845) 358-6333.
—By Robert Simonson