The upcoming Roundabout Theatre Company production of The Women is attracting some of the best women in the business. Earlier this week, it was reported that Kristen Johnson would star as the ultra bitchy Sylvia Fowler in the fall production of Clare Boothe Luce's The Women, directed by Scott Elliott. Now, Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Tilly, Rue McClanahan, Amy Ryan and Mary Louise Wilson have joined the cast. The Women will run at the American Airlines Theatre in November.
Nixon (who will play the virtuous Mary Haines), one of the stars of "Sex and the City," is a frequent stage presence. Her most recent role was in Douglas Carter Beane's The Country Club Off-Broadway. Tilly (the man-stealing Crystal), meanwhile, is known for a series of slinky performances in films such as "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Bound." Wilson (Mrs. Morehead) starred in such productions as Full Gallop (as Diana Vreeland) and Cabaret. And McClanahan (the joyful divorcee Countess De Lage), while taking an occasional stage turn, is best known from the sitcoms "Maude" and "The Golden Girls." Ryan (Peggy) starred in both Saved and Crimes of the Heart last season.
Sylvia 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.