Nancy Opel Starts Reveling in Off-Bway's Barbra's Wedding May 9, Joining Pankow

By Kenneth Jones
May 9, 2003

Nancy Opel, the respected actress who just earned a 2003 Drama Desk nomination for her work in Manhattan Theatre Club's Polish Joke, joins Off-Broadway's Barbra's Wedding May 9, replacing Julie White, who heads into rehearsals for a solo show at Playwrights Horizons.

The new Daniel Stern play about a California married couple's bond being tested when next-door neighbor Barbra Streisand gets married, helicopters and all, also stars John Pankow as the neurotic husband. Understudy Deirdre Madigan will play the May 8 performance, the day Opel was originally announced to make her debut. Julie White exited May 4.

Barbra's Wedding opened at the Westside Theatre March 5. Actor-turned-playwright Stern saw the world premiere of the comedy in Philadelphia in May 2002. Its Off-Broadway run began previews Feb. 11, with Julie White and John Pankow recreating roles they played for Philadelphia Theatre Company.

Before Polish Joke, for which she was nommed May 1 for Featured Actress Drama Desk, Nancy Opel was Tony Award-nominated for Urinetown. Julie White now heads to Playwrights Horizons studio theatre to star in Theresa Rebeck's play of monologues about bad dates, called Bad Dates.

*

David Warren (who helmed in Philly) directs the two character play's New York debut. The New York production is produced by Dodger Stage Holding & Manhattan Theatre Club; MTC offers the play to its subscribers as part of the 2002-03 season. Barbra's Wedding settled into the longtime home of The Vagina Monologues, downstairs at the Westside Theatre. Upstairs is I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.

Playwright Stern is best known as a film actor who appeared in the Academy Award-winning "Breaking Away" and "Diner," "Home Alone" and "City Slickers." This is his playwriting debut. In Barbra's Wedding, according to production notes, "celebrity-obsessed unemployed actor and former television star Jerry Schiff (played by Pankow) lives next door to the most famous woman in the world, Barbra Streisand; she is getting married and he has not been invited. This revelation triggers a madcap, comic reflection on the media culture of celebrity, including the reverberations on his own marriage to wife Molly (played by White, and then Opel)."

John Pankow (Jerry) might be best known for playing Ira on TV's "Mad About You," and has appeared on Broadway in Amadeus (Mozart), in Jose Quintero's production of The Iceman Cometh (Rocky), and Caryl Churchill's Serious Money (Zac). Off Broadway credits include Aristocrats (Clarence Derwent Award), Cloud Nine, The Tempest, Measure For Measure and Forty Deuce (Downtown Villager Award).

Designers are Neil Patel (sets), David C. Woolard (costumes), Jeff Croiter (lighting) and Fitz Patton (sound).