Actress Sophie Hayden will join the cast of the Off-Broadway hit, Dinner With Friends, Aug. 29, replacing Dana Delany in the role of Karen, one half of a seemingly stable marriage that is rocked by the break-up of another union.
Hayden, a theatre veteran, is perhaps best known for playing Rosabella in the 1992 Broadway revival of The Most Happy Fella, for which she received a Tony nomination. Since then, she has starred Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club in Nine Armenians and in the Broadway revival of The Diary of Anne Frank.
Hayden will join Matthew Arkin (the only remaining original member of the cast), Carolyn McCormick and Jonathan Walker, who came on board on March 21 and will depart the production Sept. 17.
Actress Delany gave her first performance on June 13, marking the first time the Pulitzer Prize-winning Donald Margulies hit has included a star name among its cast. Delany came to fame in the 1980's as the star of the television drama "China Beach." She now moves to the Los Angeles staging at the Geffen Theatre, Sept. 26-Oct. 29, playing the role of Beth opposite Rita Wilson's Karen.
Dinner With Friends opened Off-Broadway Nov. 4, 1999, with Arkin, Lisa Emery, Kevin Kilner and Julie White. White left the show after a few months and was replaced by McCormick. Margulies, the author of Collected Stories, cooked up a serious comedy drama about a dissolving marriage and the disillusioned friends left behind. Daniel Sullivan (The Heidi Chronicles, I'm Not Rappaport) directs. The rueful comedy about divorce and unsure friendships, was previously seen at Actors Theatre of Louisville and (in a revised form) South Coast Repertory Theatre. In New York, the play has been embraced as intelligent, dry and grown-up.
The world premiere of the four-character, two-couple Dinner With Friends (about a pair of successful food writers, and an artist and a lawyer) was part of the 1998 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre in Kentucky. The revised version was staged by Sullivan at South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa, CA, in October 1998.
Dinner With Friends is produced by Mitchell Maxwell, Mark Balsam, Ted Tulchin, Victoria Maxwell, Mari Nakachi and Steven Tulchin.
The Variety Arts Theatre is at 110 Third Ave. at 13th Street. Call (212) 239-6200 for ticket information.
The Geffen production, with Daniel Sullivan recreating his Off-Broadway staging, is produced in association with the New York producers, who plan to take the L.A. production to the Wilbur Theatre in Boston Nov. 4-19.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson