Moore — remembered for her Broadway turns in Sweet Sue and Whose Life Is It Anyway? and for the groundbreaking TV sitcom, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" — plays Rose at Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage I Off-Broadway. Her romantic interest in the play, a writer named Walsh, is John Cullum, late of Urinetown and Playwrights Horizons' Wilder.
Simon's play about love, mortality and literary legacy involves two older lovers and their young assistants, the latter couple played by David Aaron Baker and Geneva Carr. Lynne Meadow, artistic director of MTC, directs.
The play begins previews Nov. 24 and opens Dec. 18 for a limited engagement that, if critics and audiences dictate it, will possibly see a commercial transfer in the 2003-04 season.
Rose's Dilemma marks Moore's Off-Broadway debut. She was Tony Award-honored (with a Special Tony Award) for Whose Life Is It Anyway? She earned praise playing the chilly mother in the Academy Award winning film, "Ordinary People." Her home is filled with Emmy Awards for "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
The Simon play was seen in a different form at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in early 2003, under the title Rose and Walsh, with Jane Alexander and Len Cariou. David Aaron Baker is the only cast holdover from that earlier run. The work was originally said to be inspired by the relationship between Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, but Simon and the Geffen pulled away from that association early on in L.A.
Cullum is the Tony Award-winning actor known for Shenandoah, On the Twentieth Century, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and, in the past two years, Urinetown, the Musical.
MTC bills Rose's Dilemma this way: "In a Hamptons beach house, celebrated writer Rose Steiner (Mary Tyler Moore) is at a crossroads," according to production notes. "She's running out of money and needs to write the next 'big thing' fast. When her former lover, literary lion Walsh McLaren (John Cullum), has the brainstorm that could make her a fortune, she leaps at the chance. With the help of her assistant Arlene Moss (Geneva Carr) and newcomer Gavin Clancy (David Aaron Baker), how she'll pull it off is one of the dilemmas in this most intriguing play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony-Award winning Neil Simon."
The production was originally announced to begin Nov. 29, but some demands in the company's scheduled prompted a slight shift, to a Nov. 24 start.
MTC's Off-Broadway home is at City Center, 131 W. 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.