By Kenneth Jones
05 Feb 2009
|Photo by Timothy White|
The 8 PM special staged reading will be directed by Mark Waldrop (When Pigs Fly, Bea Arthur on Broadway), with a script adapted for this benefit reading by John Epperson (Lypsinka herself/himself). Proceeds will go to Friends in Deed - The Crisis Center for Life-Threatening Illness.
The presentation also stars Broadway's Bryan Batt (TV's "Mad Men"), with additional casting to be announced.
The late Kirkwood is the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning writer of A Chorus Line and "P.S. Your Cat Is Dead."
Here's how the organizers bill the event: "A hilarious comedy about two glamorous, Hollywood has-beens and arch-rivals forced to consider working together on a new project to resuscitate their careers, Legends! is one of the most notorious theatrical properties ever written — notably for what happened behind-the-scenes. Originally presented in a 1986 year-long, pre-Broadway tour starring Carol Channing and Mary Martin, it closed on the road before making it to New York. The juicy on and off-stage antics were chronicled and immortalized in playwright James Kirkwood's own non-fiction account, 'Diary of a Mad Playwright: Perilous Adventures on the Road with Mary Martin and Carol Channing.' In 2007, the play was again presented as a pre-Broadway national tour, this time helmed by 'Dynasty' co-stars Joan Collins and Linda Evans. Also failing to make it to New York, the production had its backstage wars chronicled in lurid detail by Ms. Collins in a two-part series in London's Daily Mail."
Award-winning actor, writer, fashionista and lip-synching pioneer Lypsinka (I Could Go On Lip-Synching!, The Passion of the Crawford, and his recent Medea-based play My Deah) will play the "seemingly-saintly" Leatrice Monsee.
Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg (star of "Ghost," producer of Thoroughly Modern Millie, host of AMC's "Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel" and the album "Whoopi Goldberg, plus current moderator of ABC's "The View") will play the quick-witted servant Aretha.
Batt (who is closeted art director Salvatore Romano on "Mad Men") will play Martin Klemmer, the producer scheming to get the two film stars to work together. Batt's Broadway credits include La Cage aux Folles, Sunset Boulevard, Beauty and the Beast. He created the role of Darius in the stage and film versions of Jeffrey.
The production team includes set designer and three-time Emmy Award winner Ray Klausen, costume designer Fabio Toblini and lighting and sound designer and production manager Matt Berman. Choreography is by Josh Rhodes. Costumes will be made by Eric Winterling, Inc., Euroco Costumes, Inc., Studio Rouge and Tricorne, Inc. Hairstyles are by Katherine Carr and Gerard Kelly.
Additional casting will be announced in the coming weeks, and the evening "will also feature some onstage surprises."
Town Hall is located at 123 West 43rd Street.
Tickets for VIP Seating is $250, which will include admission to an after-party. For that price range, call (800) 996-5433.
Tickets ($100, $75 and $60) will be available soon through TicketMaster at www.ticketmaster.com or (212) 307-4100. Beginning March 2, tickets will be available at the Town Hall box office (123 West 43rd Street). Town Hall box offices hours are Monday through Saturday, Noon-6 PM.
Founded by Mike Nichols and Cynthia O'Neal in 1991, Friends in Deed – The Crisis Center for Life-Threatening Illness "has helped transform many thousands of lives through a wide array of free programs and services. It provides emotional and spiritual support for anyone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening physical illnesses. Support is also available for family, friends, and caregivers of those who are ill, and anyone dealing with grief and bereavement. Friends In Deed also runs an HIV prevention program for teens in New York City public schools, having already reached over 100,000 at-risk students. All services are free of charge." For more information, visit www.friendsindeed.org or call (212) 925-2009.