He may now have the reputation as the ultimate Ray Cooney interpreter, but Paxton Whitehead also has a long history as fiction's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. He starred on Broadway in 1978's Crucifer Of Blood and at MA's Williamtown Theatre Festival in the 1994 American premiere of the 1986 Hugh Leonard comedy, The Mask Of Moriarty.
The latter play came to San Diego, CA's Old Globe Theatre (Sept./Oct.) with both Whitehead and co-star Tom Lacy. Now the pair will team up to bring the show to NJ's Paper Mill Playhouse, Jan. 7-Feb. 14. Again helming the show is director Nicholas Martin, whose last Broadway assignment was The Rehearsal and who just staged A Madhouse In Goa at Off Broadway's Second Stage.
Tom Lacy - the show's Dr. Watson, appeared at the Globe in 1995's Overtime (a role he repeated Off-Broadway). Both Whitehead and Lacy are associate artists of the Old Globe. From 1967-77, Whitehead served as artistic director of Canada's Shaw Festival. His Broadway roles include Habeas Corpus, The Affair and Run For Your Wife.
Leonard's previous plays include 1973's Da and 1986's one-act trilogy, Pizzazz.
Cast members in the Old Globe staging who are repeating their roles at Paper Mill include Paul Fitzgerald, Julian Gamble, Susan Knight, David Pittu, Henny Russell, John Siedman, Jon Patrick Walker and Amelia White. New to the show are Scott Davidson, Elizabeth Roby and Matthew Yeoman. Designing the show are James Joy (set), Michael Krass (costumes) and Jeff Davis (lighting). Also on tap for the Paper Mill season are:
DEATH OF A SALESMAN Arthur Miller's Pulitzer-Prize winning drama will feature Ralph Waite, of "Waltons" fame. He replaces previously announced Hal Holbrook, (of Mark Twain Tonight renown) due to Holbrook's scheduling conflicts. Also, David Wheeler replaces previously announced director Gerald Freedman. Both Holbrook and Wheeler come from an October Alley Theatre (TX) staging of the drama. Feb. 24-April 5.)
FOLLIES (Robert Johanson directs the legendary Sondheim musical about veteran vaudevillians remembering their youth. Songs include "Losing My Mind" and "Waiting For The Girls Upstairs." (April 15-May 31)
THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES (The 1991 Tony winner for best musical, the shows tells a fanciful version of the life story of Rogers, one of America's most popular entertainer/comedians. Peter Stone wrote the book, Betty Comden & Adolph Green the lyrics, Cy Coleman the score. (June 10-July 26, 1998).
Robert Johanson is artistic director of the Paper Mill Playhouse, the official state theatre of New Jersey. Classic musicals previously revived at the Millburn theatre include South Pacific, Show Boat and Gigi; newer works include Chess, Jane Eyre and Comfortable Shoes.
For subscription passes and other information on the Old Globe, refer to the regional listing or call (619) 235-2250.
-- By David Lefkowitz