By Kenneth Jones
13 Sep 2001
Jennifer Jason Leigh has built a film career on playing troubled women from Dorothy Parker to Catherine Sloper, and Sept. 13 she adds another Catherine to her repertoire when she steps into the Broadway production of Proof.
Mary Louise-Parker packed up her 2001 Tony Award for Best Actress and left Proof Sept. 9, along with her Tony nominated co-stars Johanna Day and Ben Shenkman. Replacing her are Leigh (star of the films "Washington Square," in which she played homely and nervous Catherine Sloper, and "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle," in which she played Dorothy Parker), Seana Kofoed and Josh Hamilton. Patrick Tovatt continues in the role of Robert, a mentally unbalanced University of Chicago math genius whose disturbed daughter, Catherine, may have inherited his genius — or illness.
The new cast was to debut Sept. 11, but owing to terrorist attacks in Manhattan that day, all of Broadway was shut down. With the encouragement of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Broadway producers decided to resume shows Sept. 13. Marquees will be dimmed at 8 PM in honor of those lost in attacks in New York City, Washington, CDC and western Pennsylvania.
Parker, Johanna Day, Ben Shenkman and Larry Bryggman originated the roles Off-Broadway in 2000 at Manhattan Theatre Club, where David Auburn's play had its world premiere prior to its Broadway transfer and its 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It also won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2001. All four performers were Tony nommed after the move to Broadway.
The play is at turns a comedy, a mystery, a family drama and a romance, and audiences have cheered the Broadway production for its craft, intelligence — and its gasp-inducing surprises.
Kofoed will play Catherine's brittle sister, Claire (taking over for Day) and Josh Hamilton will play a mysterious and charming suitor of Catherine's, Hal (originated by Shenkman). Daniel Sullivan (who won the Tony for staging Proof) directs at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
Leigh recently played Sally Bowles in Broadway's Cabaret. Her other theatre work includes Picnic (Ahmanson Theatre) and Sunshine (Circle Rep). She is better known for her films, including "The Anniversary Party," which she co-wrote and co-directed with Alan Cumming, her Cabaret co-star. Her other films include "Last Exit to Brooklyn," "Miami Blues," "Georgia," "eXistenZ," "Kansas City," "Short Cuts," "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Delores Claiborne," "Single White Female," "Rush," "A Thousand Acres," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "The Big Picture." Her next film is "The Road to Perdition."
Hamilton appeared in Off-Broadway's The Waverly Gallery and the Drama Dept.'s sweet summer comedy, Music From a Sparkling Planet. Kofoed's most recent assignment was Warren Leight's Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine at Manhattan Theatre Club, where Proof was born in 2000. Tovatt was Philip Bosco's standby (and the Wednesday matinee performer) for Copenhagen, appeared as Claudius in Actors Theatre of Louisville's Hamlet and is known as Cal Stricklyn of TV's "As the World Turns." He was founding producing director of Virginia Stage Company.
Sullivan also helms the national tour, which begins this fall with a resident preview at Seattle Repertory Theatre (Oct. 8-Nov. 10). The tour commences Nov. 27 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. The tour cast includes Robert Foxworth, Chelsea Altman, Stephen Kunken and Tasha Lawrence.
Proof is produced by Manhattan Theatre Club, Roger Berlind, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Jujamcyn Theaters, Ostar Enterprises, Daryl Roth and Stuart Thompson.
The play opened May 23, 2000 to wide critical acclaim, and played a sold out, extended run Off-Broadway at MTC's Stage I. It opened on Broadway Oct. 24, 2000.
Designers for the Broadway and tour stagings are John Lee Beatty (set), Jess Goldstein (costumes), Pat Collins (lighting) and original music and sound design by John Gromada.
For Proof ticket information, call (212) 239 6200.