John Larroquette and Eric McCormack Are Presidential Contenders in The Best Man, Beginning March 6

By Kenneth Jones
06 Mar 2012

Eric McCormack
Eric McCormack

The Best Man, Gore Vidal's 1960 play about a U.S. presidential election, gets its second Broadway revival — and a starry one, at that — beginning previews March 6 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Opening night is April 1.

Michael Wilson (Dividing the Estate, The Orphans' Home Cycle) directs an ensemble that includes two-time Tony Award winner James Earl Jones (Fences, The Great White Hope), Tony and Emmy Award winner John Larroquette (as candidate William Russell), Emmy and Golden Globe winner Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown"), Emmy Award winner Eric McCormack (as candidate Sen. Joseph Cantwell), Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays (I Am My Own Wife), Tony nominee Kerry Butler (Xanadu, Hairspray), Drama Desk Award winner Michael McKean (The Pajama Game, Superior Donuts) and five-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury (Mame, Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, Dear World) with Curtis Billings, Corey Brill, Tony Carlin, Donna Hanover (as a journalist), Sherman Howard, Olja Hrustic, Bill Kux, James Lecesne, Dakin Matthews (as a senator), Angelica Page, Fred Parker Jr. and Amy Tribbey.

Here's how the producers bill The Best Man: "A play about power, ambition, political secrets, ruthlessness and the race for the presidency, Gore Vidal's The Best Man is set at the national convention where two candidates are vying for their party's nomination during the primary season. It's an inside look at the dirt-digging, double-dealing, triple-crossing chicanery of presidential electioneering and what could be more fun in a presidential campaign season than these theatrical fireworks."

John Larroquette
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

John Gromada composes music for the production. The design team includes Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning scenic designer Derek McLane, Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning lighting designer Kenneth Posner, five-time Tony Award-nominated costume designer Ann Roth and projection designer Peter Nigrini.



Gore Vidal's The Best Man is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and INFINITY Stages.

The Best Man originally ran on Broadway in 1960 and was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Play. Melvyn Douglas, portraying candidate William Russell, a former secretary of state, won the Tony Award for outstanding actor. The production ran for 521 performances.

The play last appeared on Broadway in September 2000 starring Elizabeth Ashley, Charles Durning, Christine Ebersole, Spalding Gray, Michael Learned, Chris Noth, Mark Blum, Jonathan Hadary and Jordan Lage. The production was honored with the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play.

Visit www.thebestmanonbroadway.com for information.

Tickets are also available by visiting Telecharge.com or by calling (212) 239-6200.

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James Earl Jones
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Jones (Fences, The Great White Hope, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Driving Miss Daisy) will play the former President of the United States. His endorsement of candidates is part of the plot of the political drama. Charles Durning played former President Hockstader in the 2000 revival.

McCormack (Joseph Cantwell) spent five seasons with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival where his roles included Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Tusenbach in Three Sisters and Orleans in Henry V. He made his Broadway debut starring as Harold Hill in The Music Man, and returned to New York for the American premiere of Neil LaBute's Some Girl(s), for Off-Broadway's MCC Theatre. Next year, he will be both star and a producer on the new TNT drama, "Perception."

(The role of Senator Cantwell was played by Cliff Robertson in the film adaptation and Chris Noth in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Best Man.)

Bergen (as Alice Russell, the wife of candidate William Russell) appeared on Broadway in the mid-1980s in Hurlyburly. She is best known for starring in the TV series "Murphy Brown" (1988-1998), for which she won five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards; and as Shirley Schmidt on "Boston Legal" (2004-2008), for which she was nominated for two Emmys, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Her film appearances include "The Group," "The Sand Pebbles," "Carnal Knowledge," "The Wind and the Lion," "Gandhi," "Rich and Famous" and "Starting Over," for which she was Oscar-nominated.

Angela Lansbury

Lansbury (as Mrs. Gamadge, a women's rights lobbyist) is known for TV's "Murder, She Wrote" and for her Broadway appearances in Mame, Dear World, Sweeney Todd, 1974's Gypsy, 2009's A Little Night Music, 2009's Blithe Spirit, Deuce, A Taste of Honey and Anyone Can Whistle. Her films include "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Gaslight."

Larroquette (William Russell) recently starred as J.B. Biggley in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, for which he won 2011 Tony and Drama Desk Awards. He's a five-time Emmy Award-winning actor, best known as Assistant District Attorney Dan Fielding on NBC's "Night Court," which earned him four Emmy Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He also starred in the NBC comedy series "The John Larroquette Show," was a series regular on "Boston Legal" and won his fifth Emmy Award for a guest-starring role on "The Practice."

McKean (as campaign manager Dick Jensen) is internationally known for playing Lenny on TV's "Laverne & Shirley," and for his work in the film mockumentaries "This Is Spinal Tap," "A Mighty Wind" and "Best In Show." He is currently appearing in The Public Theater's production of King Lear. He won the 2008 Drama Desk Award for his performance in Broadway's The Homecoming (Outstanding Ensemble Performance). Other Broadway credits include Superior Donuts. The Pajama Game, Hairspray and Accomplice (Theatre World Award). He co-wrote the Grammy-winning theme to "A Mighty Wind" (with Chris Guest and Eugene Levy) and the Oscar-nominated "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" with his wife Annette O'Toole.