From the huzzahs and plaudits greeting Kathleen Chalfant's performance as Vivian Bearing in Wit, one would think she was the only actress capable of doing the role. And more than a few eyebrows were raised when Chalfant's Off-Broadway replacement turned out to be Judith Light, best known for her eight years on the TV sitcom, "Who's The Boss." But Light's reviews have been exceptional, and the producers have been so pleased with her work, that Light will star in the national tour of Wit, beginning performances Feb. 1, 2000, at Boston's Wilbur Theatre.
Light's stage credits include playing the maid in a 1975 Broadway mounting of Ibsen's A Doll's House (opposite Liv Ullman and Sam Waterston), as well as the Broadway play Herzl and a Public Theatre Measure For Measure.
The Wit tour will play in Boston through Feb. 27, moving on the Washington DC's Kennedy Center Feb. 28-March 26, 2000, Fort Lauderdale, FL's Parker Playhouse March 27-April 16, 2000, Palm Beach, FL's Royal Poinciana Playhouse, April 17-30, 2000, and San Francisco's Curran Theatre, May 3-June 4, 2000.
The producers of the Off-Broadway run -- MCC Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, Daryl Roth, Stanley Shopkorn, Robert G. Bartner, Stanley Kaufelt and associate producer Lorie Cowen Levy -- are producing the tour as well.
Wit, playing at the Union Square Theatre, tells of a strict college poetry professor brought low -- to humility and humanity -- by her bout with ovarian cancer. Actress Chalfant won an OBIE, a Lortel Award, a Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her role in Margaret Edson's Pulitzer winning drama. But all great things come to an end, and Chalfant left the role Aug. 8 (though she'll play Vivian Bearing once more, Jan. 18-Feb. 20, 2000, when Wit comes to Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse in a sit-down production not connected to the tour. There are also discussions to have her do the role in London). Judith Light took over the role in New York on Aug. 10, officially re opening the show Sept. 9. Also added to the cast when Light came on board were William Cain (The Heiress), Sally Parrish (The English Teachers) and Grant Show ("Melrose Place") in the roles of Dr. Harvey Kelekian, Dr. E.M. Ashford and Dr. Jason Posner, respectively.
No word yet on who will take over for Light after she goes on tour, though the producers are definitely planning to recast and keep the show going, according to a Boneau/Bryan-Brown production spokesperson. Casting for supporting roles, in both New York and on tour, is also in the process of being determined.
For tickets and information on Wit off-Broadway, directed by Derek Anson Jones, call (212) 307-4100.
-- By David Lefkowitz