Broadway Curtain Goes Up on Royal Family of Harris, Rogers, Maxwell, Glover and More

News   Broadway Curtain Goes Up on Royal Family of Harris, Rogers, Maxwell, Glover and More
The theatrical act of "going on" has a double meaning in The Royal Family, George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's play about an American theatrical clan patterned after the Barrymores and the Drews. Manhattan Theatre Club revives the 1927 comedy starting Sept. 15 at Broadway's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Rosemary Harris
Rosemary Harris Photo by Aubrey Reuben

In the play, "going on" is as much about continuing a bloodline and its traditions as it is about getting up on the boards and doing a turn. Tony Award winner (and multiple nom nominee) Rosemary Harris (The Lion in Winter, A Delicate Balance, Hay Fever) plays matriarch Fanny Cavendish in the new production directed by Doubt Tony winner Doug Hughes (himself the scion of a theatrical family — he's the son of actors Barnard Hughes and Helen Stenborg). Hughes is also directing David Mamet's Oleanna on Broadway this fall.

This new Royal Family — in the second Broadway revival of the Jazz Age play, unless you're counting a 1951 run at City Center — also features Ana Gasteyer (as Kitty Dean), Tony winner John Glover (as Herbert Dean, Fanny's brother, a faded star), Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Jan Maxwell (as Julie Cavendish, Fanny's daughter — a leading lady), Broadway veteran Larry Pine (as Gilbert Marshall), Tony Award nominee Tony Roberts (as producer Oscar Wolfe) and Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award nominee Reg Rogers (as dashing leading man Tony Cavendish — Fanny's son ), with Freddy Arsenault (as Perry Stewart), Kelli Barrett (as Gwen Cavendish, Julie's daughter, an ingenue), Caroline Stefanie Clay (as Della), Rufus Collins (as McDermott, Gunga), David Greenspan (as Jo), Anthony Newfield (as Chauffer), Henny Russell (as Miss Peake), Cat Walleck (as Hallboy) and John Wernke (as Hallboy).

Opening night is Oct. 8. Tickets are on sale to Nov. 22.

According to MTC, "Follow a famous family of stage stars as they go about the drama of the day: choosing scripts, dashing off to performances, stealing kisses from handsome beaus. But what’s this business about the youngest diva wanting to quit the stage for domestic bliss? Never, darling!"

Ethel Barrymore was not happy that her legendary family was the subject of a play. The Barrymore were giants of stage and screen 70-80 years ago. Today, not so much. "Drew Barrymore, of course, people know her," Harris told in a recent Brief Encounter interview. "The talent pool obviously went down to her. But I don't think it matters at all. Even in 1975, people didn't really think a lot about the Barrymores. I think it meant a lot in 1927, from what I've read. Actors didn't want to be in it, because they didn't want to upset the Barrymore family. A season or two before the play, all three of them were playing on Broadway simultaneously, the sister and two brothers."

The creative team includes John Lee Beatty (scenic design), Catherine Zuber (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design), Darron L. West (sound design), Tom Watson (hair and wig design) and Rick Sordelet (fight director).

Original music for this non-musical is by Tony Award winner Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic).

Yeston told, "It was a joy fulfilling the assignment for incidental music to The Royal Family — particularly because the job is threefold: 1.) there are three acts that require musical introductions, and perhaps closings as well, 2.) Ferber and Kaufman specifically call for characters in the play to sit at the piano and play original music...and this of course means one must create music that reflects the 1927 era in which the play takes place, and 3.) the material may also function as a musical underscore and musical commentary that makes us understand this to be a contemporary take on a wonderful play written 80 years ago. I have had a ball working with this brilliant director and wonderful cast."

The Friedman is at 261 W. 47th Street. For visit or call (212) 239-6200.

For MTC subscription information, call (212) 399-3050 or visit


Rosemary Harris — who won her Best Actress Tony in 1966 for The Lion in Winter — was nominated for a Best Actress Tony in 1975-76 for playing Julie Cavendish (opposite Eva La Gallienne as Fanny) in The Royal Family, directed by Ellis Rabb. It also was revived in 1951 in a production by at City Center, which (as a venue today) is not considered a Broadway venue.

A musical version of The Royal Family was written by Tony Award winner William Finn (Falsettos), but it has never had a full production.

Tony Roberts, John Glover, Kelli Barrett, Ana Gasteyer, Jan Maxwell, Rosemary Harris, Reg Rogers and Larry Pine
Tony Roberts, John Glover, Kelli Barrett, Ana Gasteyer, Jan Maxwell, Rosemary Harris, Reg Rogers and Larry Pine Aubrey Reuben
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