The four-actor play by writers Julie Gilbert and Frank Evans reveals the 30-year obsessive relationship between Dietrich, the international star and Remarque, the celebrated anti-war novelist. The March 23 reading is open only to industry members.
Brian Letscher plays James Stewart. Ariane Brandt plays four roles: Maedchen (a childhood acquaintance of Marlene's), Yutta Remarque, (who married Erich twice), Gloria Hatrick McClean (later Mrs. James Stewart) and film star Paulette Goddard who became the final Mrs. Remarque.
Playwright Gilbert was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her dual biography of Remarque and Paulette Goddard, "Opposite Attraction" (Pantheon). During her research for the biography, she had Remarque's diaries translated. They divulge aspects of the affair between Dietrich and James Stewart during the filming of "Destry Rides Again," which are incorporated into the play.
Yanna Kroyt Brandt directs.
Gilbert and Evans share the Jerry Bock Award for the musical version of Dinner at Eight (Equity readings at Off Broadway's Century Center and London's Drury Lane) as well as two other plays: The Woman in the Red Parka, an examination of an unsolved Hollywood death and George and Edna Go to Omaha, about George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's collaboration. George and Edna is scheduled for a reading at the Algonquin Hotel. Julie Gilbert is great niece of Edna Ferber.
"Frank and I had started writing a play about obsessive relationships that didn't feel right," Gilbert previously told Playbill.com. "I told him, 'If you really want to write about obsession, look at Remarque's diaries and the hold Dietrich had over him for over 30 years.' There's one paragraph about Jimmy Stewart that no one else knows about and it's the core of a play."
Remarque is best known for "All Quiet on the Western Front." Puma was Remarque's pet name for Dietrich — "the blonde Puma."
For further information, e-mail PumaThePlay@aol.com.