Edie Falco, who collected a Theatre World Award May 14 and contended (unsuccessfully) for a Drama Desk Award May 17 for her memorable portrayal of a jazz musician's raging, alcoholic wife in Warren Leight's Side Man, won't be in the running for the Tony next season: A contractual commitment, made before the play became a sleeper hit Off-Broadway, has forced her out of the play's Broadway run, which goes into previews June 3 and officially begins June 25 at the Roundabout Theatre.
Wendy Makkena is coming in from Los Angeles to take over this crucial role. She was most recently seen in New York in Wendy McLeod's The Water Children at Playwrights Horizons, which ironically featured two of Side Man's seven-member cast, Robert Sella and Michael Mastro. The rest of the cast is expected back on board: Kevin Geer, Angelica Torn, Frank Wood and Joseph Lyle Taylor. Michael Mayer, whose direction did win a Drama Desk Award, will repeat the task for Broadway.
"Obviously, having to replace Edie was terrorizing," admitted Peter Manning, who is coproducing the show with Weissberger Theatre Group's Jay Harris and Roundabout Theatre's Todd Haimes, "but Wendy is fabulous. She's an actress I've known for a long time. She did Richard Greenberg's The American Plan at Manhattan Theatre Club when I was there. We are all very, very pleased that Wendy was available to do this."
Falco revealed the change of plans right after the Theatre World Award to-do, which was held in the very theatre where she was to do Side Man. "I vowed never to set foot in this theatre because I knew it'd break my heart. Then I heard this was where the awards ceremony was going to be! I said, 'Oh, no, it can't be. Can't they hold it some place else?"
The prior commitment which effectively canceled her Broadway debut is an HBO series called "The Sopranos." "We start shooting on June 18, and we go until December. It's 12 episodes so it's a long-term commitment, and I'm just heartbroken about the play, but I was honored to be a part of it in any form, and I wish it a long and beautiful life." In receiving the Theatre World Award, Falco admitted she was surprised about it for a number of reasons. "I haven't done a lot of theatre, basically is what it comes down to. I did theatre in school and I studied it, but things have gone another way for me. I wound up doing a lot of film and television. It just sorta happened that way. I didn't plan on that."
Then along came chance. "About three years ago, I ran into Warren Leight on the street. He was a friend, and he told me there was a reading the next day and somebody dropped out. It was all very happenstance. The life that this play, this experience, has taken on since then has been incredible. You can't plan something like this, the way I sorta fell into it. It started as a reading and a workshop and more readings and a production at Poughkeepsie and a reading since then, then this production at CSC -- the whole thing has been very dream-like from the beginning. . . . The experience of doing this play has meant the world to me. And on top of that to be honored like this -- which meant there were other people there seeing this go on so it didn't just happen in my imagination -- it's too big."