Gore Vidal's political drama, The Best Man, is set to open on Broadway this fall. Writers & Artists agent Bill Craver confirmed (June 6) that Spalding Gray and Elizabeth Ashley would be in the cast, with Ethan McSweeny directing. Charles Durning has long been set for the production. The play boasts a large cast (17) with six leads.
The last time Gray appeared on a New York stage as part of anything other than one of his well-known and popular monologues, was as the Stage Manager in the Lincoln Center Theater production of Our Town in 1989. In Best Man, Gray is to play presidential candidate William Russell to Durning's President Hockstader. The Times said that Kyle McLaughlan, of "Blue Velvet" and the current film of "Hamlet," may also be in the casting mix.
Durning's many theatre credits include the recent Broadway revivals of The Gin Game and Inherit the Wind, as well as last spring's Glengarry Glen Ross at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. Ashley is well known for her turns in Tennessee Williams plays, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer and The Red Devil Battery Sign.
Director McSweeny staged Never the Sinner Off Broadway and Side Man at MN's Guthrie Theatre.
According to production spokesperson Jeffrey Richards, The Best Man, a limited engagement, will begin previews Sept. 5 and run through Dec. 31. John Arnone (Tommy) will design the sets, Howell Binkley Parade) the lighting. Rehearsals begin July 31. At the beginning of the 1999-2000 season, the New York Times carried an ad for an upcoming mounting of The Best Man but offered few details as to who, what, when or where. Numerous calls by Playbill On Line to Vidal's agent at CAA went unreturned (possibly because the rights to the play remain with the William Morris Agency).
The Best Man is only the latest entry in an already crowded Broadway fall. Expected productions include The Seussical, Little Women, Jane Eyre and Oklahoma!
The original production of The Best Man opened at the Morosco Theatre March 31, 1960. Cast-members included Melvyn Douglas (as Russell) and Leora Dana. Joseph Anthony directed the three-act drama, set at a 1960 Presidential Convention in Philadelphia.