The Urinetown and Little Shop of Horrors veteran is on track to play the key role of Ensign Pulver, according to sources. Robert Longbottom (Flower Drum Song, The Scarlet Pimpernel) will direct Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan's wartime play Mister Roberts, a monster hit on Broadway in 1948.
Previews will begin March 12, 2005, at the Kennedy Center. Opening is March 17, for a run through April 3. No cast has been officially announced.
The play, set aboard the Navy ship Reluctant, anchored in the South Pacific, won the 1948 Tony Award for Best Play. The show cemented the reputation of Josh Logan, who also directed; the next year he would stage the premiere of South Pacific.
Mister Roberts was based on Heggen's novel of the same name, which was a bestseller, and was drawn from his experiences in the service. The plot, which is largely episodic, concerns the crew's battle against boredom, and Lieutenant Douglas Roberts' constant requests to be transferred to active duty. Henry Fonda took a break from Hollywood to play the title role. David Wayne was Ensign Pulver and William Harrigan was the cantankerous chief.
The play ran for 1,157 performances on Broadway. A popular movie version starred Fonda, James Cagney and Jack Lemmon, winning an Oscar as Pulver. Given the Broadway credentials of the director, and the fact that another production which began life at the Kennedy Center, On Golden Pond, was recently announced for Broadway, a New York future for Mister Roberts is not out of the question. However, Pond was produced at the Center by Jeffrey Finn, whereas Roberts is a Kennedy Center production.