At the Feb. 12 dress rehearsal for the Encores! staging of Sweet Adeline at NY's City Center, it was announced that Nancy Marchand had taken ill and Myra Carter would replace her as Hester Van Doren Day for the 5-performance run.
Tony Randall and Carter are the latest names to be added to the cast of Sweet Adeline, the first production presented by the celebrated "Encores!: Americal Musicals in Concert" series since its acclaimed revival of Chicago, which moved to Broadway.
Dorothy Loudon, Patti Cohenour and Gary Beach will play leads in the New York City Center revival, Feb. 13-16. The remaining cast will be Kristi Lynes, MacIntyre Dixon, Jacquelyn Piro, Hugh Panaro, Patrick Breen, Steven Goldstein, and Shannon Lewis.
Randall, founder of the National Actors Theatre and best known as finicky Felix Unger on TV's The Odd Couple, appeared in this season's Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden, and has starred on Broadway in Inherit The Wind, M. Butterfly and A Little Hotel On The Side. Loudon won a Tony as Miss Hannigan in the original Broadway cast of Annie. Cohenour played Rosa Budd in the original Broadway cast of The Mystery of Edwin Drood and succeeded Sarah Brightman as Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera. Beach is best know for creating the role of Lumiere, the amorous candlestick, in the Broadway adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Panaro was featured in Show Boat; Dixon appeared in Encores!' Call Me Madam in 1995. Sweet Adeline is a rarely-revived 1929 musical written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein 2d as a vehicle for their Show Boat star, torch singer Helen Morgan. For the 1997 production, Cohenour will play her role, that of a Broadway star on the rise from humble beginnings. Songs include "Why Was I Born?" and "Don't Ever Leave Me" (but not "Sweet Adeline"). The show was a hit but would have been bigger had the stock market not crashed two months after Adeline opened, thus pushing the middle class out of theatregoing.
That, and other interesting insights were offered in a pre-dress rehearsal dialogue sponsored by Encores!. Hugh Fordin, author of the Oscar Hammerstein II biography, "Getting To Know Him," shared anecdotes on the lyricist of Sweet Adeline. He pointed out that although most people think Hammerstein and Kern's entire career centered on Show Boat, the Kern/Hammerstein collaboration lasted just as long as the Rodgers/Hammerstein pairing -- nearly 15 years. He also quoted Irving Berlin (whom Fordin interviewed as research for "Getting To Know Him") as saying that "Oscar Hammerstein was a poet, not just a songwriter." It's also not very well known that Hammerstein offered the Oklahoma! project to Kern first and then went on to create the show with Rodgers.
Sweet Adeline is directed by Eric Schaeffer, artistic director of Signature Theater in Arlington, VA. Originally slated to go first, Martin Short starring in Promises, Promises will, instead, run March. 20 23, with Lorenz Hart and George Abbott's The Boys From Syracuse capping the season May 1-4.
Proving his musical leanings, Schaeffer has directed several Sondheim shows at the Signature, including Passion. After Adeline, he'll return to Signature for an April Sunday In The Park With George.
Artistic Director Kathleen Marshall, 33, choreographed the Tony-nominated Swinging on a Star.
This year, to accommodate the overwhelming demand for tickets, a fifth "twilight" performance has been added to the "Encores!" regular schedule (Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM, Saturday matinee at 2 PM). The additional "twilight" performances will take place Sunday at 6:30 PM.
Subscriptions and tickets are now on sale at (212) 581-1212.