Brian F. O'Byrne, Marie Mullen and Tom Murphy, all original cast members of the Broadway play The Beauty Queen of Leenane , will leave the cast of the Martin McDonagh work Jan. 3, 1999. Mullen and Murphy won Tonys for their portrayals.
Kate Burton will join the cast, beginning Jan. 5, 1999, taking over from Mullen the title role of a bitter, middle-aged Irish woman whose last shot at love is bedeviled by her meddlesome mother. Replacing Murphy and O'Byrne will be, respectively, Chris Carley and Stevie Ray Dallimore.
Anna Manahan, the fourth member of the original cast, will remain with the show through the end of March.
A special agreement worked out between the producers and Actors Equity Association initially allowed Leenane to keep its Irish cast for 26 weeks, starting from its Broadway transfer April 23, 1998. An American cast would have had to replace the performers in mid-October. But the producers and the union worked out an extension through New Years. Later on, it was determined that Manahan could stay a further three months.
In other news, Beauty Queen has returned its investment of $1.2 million. The show's producers paid back investors just seven weeks after the Broadway opening. It remains unclear how long Beauty will run after Manahan's departure. In order to make way for Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Conor McPherson's The Weir -- transferring from Chicago and London, respectively -- Jujamcyn Theatres has been considering closing the McDonagh play. The Jujamcyn gave the O'Neill Theatre to Salesman -- a house it had promised to The Weir , which was due to hit the Great White Way in February 1999. Putting Salesman in the O'Neill leaves The Weir homeless. Over recent week, it has looked more and more likely that The Weir will bump Beauty Queen out of the Kerr come spring.
"We're talking about closing the Beauty Queen of Leenane on Apr. 4, ," said Landesman (Nov. 9). "Anna Manahan can't do it past Apr. 4, and it's felt that she's very important to the show." Landesman was not available for additional comment at press time.