The touring production of the solo play, Tallulah, starring Kathleen Turner, will not come to Broadway in fall 2001 but has been postponed "to allow the creative team to further develop the play," said spokesman Chris Boneau, on behalf of producers James L. Nederlander and SFX Theatrical Group.
No future production dates are available for the once-hot project for the film star, Boneau said July 19. Turner has been mentioned as a possibility for a Broadway production of The Graduate, which she starred in, as Mrs. Robinson, in London.
Michael Lessac directed Sandra Ryan Heyward's biographical Tallulah on a Broadway-aimed tour in 2000-2001. The project was not fully embraced by regional critics, and a second writer, Paul Selig, was brought in to work on the script.
Turner ("Romancing the Stone," "Body Heat" and Broadway's Indiscretions) played the elegant, heavy-lidded actress as she prepares to host a fundraiser for incumbent president Harry S. Truman. As she fussed and fretted over every detail of the party, Turner's Tallulah sipped champagne and divulged secrets and passions in her life. Her wardrobe was by Bob Mackie, who outfitted Cher, Carol Burnett and others in his high-profile, glam-friendly career.
Turner — no stranger to the stage, in Broadway's Indiscretions and London's recent The Graduate — performed Heyward's Tallulah in an earlier U.S. staging in 1999 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami and in its 1997 world premiere at the Chichester Festival Theatre in Sussex, England. Heyward made revisions for the 2000-2001 production, and additional material was added by Selig in the last year. Producers of the tour and planned Broadway stay of Tallulah were SFX Theatrical Group, James L. Nederlander in association with Duncan C. Weldon and Tony Fantozzi.
Director Lessac's credits include TV's "The Drew Carey Show" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."
The tour played Detroit, Columbus, OH, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Palm Beach, FL.
The original plan of the producers was to have the solo show about the famously raunchy, reckless actress on Broadway in time for the 2000 2001 Tony nomination cutoff, but no "appropriate" Broadway houses are available, they announced. In December 2000, they announced fall 2001 as the target.
Bankhead (1903-1968) is perhaps best known for her Broadway stints in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, and Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth (and was notoriously heckled as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire). Bankhead also starred in Alfred Hitchcock's 1944 film, "Lifeboat," as a glamorous lady journalist-castaway. The Southern-born, gimlet-eyed actress lived a high life and was considered something of a survivor despite her frayed edges.
Kathleen Turner made her Broadway debut as a replacement in the long running Albert Innaurato comedy, Gemini. Since then, she's been nominated for a Tony for her portrayal of "Maggie the Cat" in the 1990 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and appeared in the 1995 production of Jean Cocteau's Indiscretions.
With her trademark husky voice, Turner came to Hollywood attention in the 1981 film "Body Heat," leading to sexy siren roles in films like "V.I. Warshawski," "The Man With Two Brains," and "Prizzi's Honor." Other roles include "Serial Mom," "Romancing the Stone," "The War of the Roses," "Crimes of Passion" and the recent "Baby Geniuses." Turner received an Oscar nomination for her lead role in the Francis Ford Coppola 1986 film, "Peggy Sue Got Married." She's currently featured in "The Virgin Suicides."
Tallulah was something of a trend in the 2000-2001 season: On Sept. 19, 2000, the actress Tovah Feldshuh began Off Broadway previews for a three-character show, Tallulah Hallelujah! at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre. It took place during a USO benefit in which headliner Ella Fitzgerald is delayed, so Tallulah "vamps" and tells her story in song and anecdote (with the assistance of a pianist who turns out to be Meredith Willson, played by Bob Goldstone, and a young G.I., played by Mark Deklin). The script was by Feldshuh, with additional material by Larry Amoros and Linda Selman. William Wesbrooks directs. The show closed Dec. 31, 2000.
The shows are not to be confused with an earlier project, Tallulah's Party, which featured Feldshuh a couple seasons ago Off-Broadway. Helen Gallagher has also played the actress in past, unrelated show.
Also, the Tallulah-related play, Dahling, a new eight actor play by Nan Schmid, opened Off-Off-Broadway at the Grove Street Playhouse. The New York premiere of Schmid's play — which uses Bankhead's famous drawled term of endearment as its title — was billed as "not a one woman show," in response to the Broadway-bound Kathleen Turner solo vehicle. It has since closed.
— By Kenneth Jones