Just switch around a few letters in Natalie Portman and you have Nathalie Paulding, Portman's replacement in the title role of Broadway's revival of The Diary of Anne Frank. Paulding, who will step into the part June 2, is best known as Susan Lucci's daughter Bianca on the TV soap opera "All My Children." Her New York stage credits includes a turn in the recent Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke.
Portman's last performance was May 31. The rest of the cast of Anne Frank, including George Hearn, Linda Lavin, Austin Pendleton and Harris Yulin, will remain intact for the time being, according to a representative for the show.
Reached at a May 18 92nd Street Y benefit where he sang "I Am What I Am" (his signature tune from La Cage aux Folles), Hearn told Playbill On-Line he only recently has begun finding the depths of Otto Frank's character. "There was so much re-writing done for this version," Hearn said, "so much material that wasn't in the show before, they were re-writing throughout Boston and all the way up to the opening night. I could have used another month on it; I had the lines down, but it never became intuitive. It's been hard work, but now I think I'm as close as I can get."
Hearn, 63, has another major project on his hands: raising a 17-month-old son. He said that doing a straight play like Anne Frank was a way of keeping honest, since with musicals "you tend to go big and over-the-top a bit. This forces you back into the real thing." Hearn did confess if he had one show to revive and star in, it would be a musical: South Pacific.
The Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett Pulitzer Prize-winner, The Diary of Anne Frank, opened at the Music Box Theatre on Dec. 4, 1997. James Lapine directed the production, which, in an adaptation by Wendy Kesselman, included much new material intended to introduce darker elements of the Frank story omitted from the original 1955 production.