By Harry Haun
29 May 1996
For his next directorial move, Lloyd Richards plans to go from Wilson to Williams. The director who has made a distinguished career for himself installing the works of August Wilson on Broadway (Seven Guitars is the latest) hopes to helm the all-black Broadway revival of another Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Tennessee Williams--Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The play, which was in Tony contention for Best Play of 1956, will reunite the Tony-winning director and star of Wilson's Pulitzer- and Tony-winning Fences--Richards and James Earl Jones. It has long been the dream of Jones to play Williams' Southern-fried patriarch, Big Daddy Pollitt, and there was indeed talk of him doing it for the play's most recent (1990) Broadway revival with Kathleen Turner. But the deal fell through and the part went to Charles Durning, who collected a Tony for it. Neither Burl Ives, who originated the part and repeated it for the movie version, nor Fred Gwynne, who inherited it for the first (1975) Broadway revival, received nominations for it, but the role transformed their careers.
To play Big Daddy's sexually confused son and sexually feuding daughter-in-law--Brick and Maggie (the Cat) Pollitt--Richards says he wants Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. The two previously co-starred--to Oscar-nominated effect--as Ike and Tina Turner in What's Love Got To Do With It.
The timetable of the revival is totally dependent on the availability of the stars. "It will happen as soon as we can put the people together," says Richards. "When you go for a star package like that, their schedules are so ridiculous." He says he is adopting a hopeful watch-and-wait policy.