Elaine May's Taller Than a Dwarf, the only new comedy due on Broadway this spring, began rehearsals Feb. 1 in New York, toward a first preview at the Longacre Theatre March 24 and an opening April 24. Prior to its New York stand, the play, starring Matthew Broderick (as Howard Miller) and Parker Posey (as Selma Miller), will play Boston's Wilbur Theatre, March 7-19. Alan Arkin will direct. Julian Schlossberg is the producer.
The complete cast of Taller Than a Dwarf also includes Joyce Van Patten (as Mrs. Miller), Jerry Adler (Mr. Miller), Marcia Jean Kurtz (Mrs. Shawl), Cynthia Darlow, Marc John Jeffries, Dajon Matthews, Sam Groom, Greg Stuhr and Micheal [sic] McShane, who recently replaced Jim Downey. Four standby performers have also been added to the roster: Josh Alexander, Valerie Geffner, Marilyn Pasekoff and Joel Rooks.
Up until now, Dwarf has been rather obliquely described as the story of "an average couple during the millennium learning the new rules of the American dream." Schlossberg, speaking to Playbill On-Line, didn't reveal much more of the storyline, though he added that the couple in question are surrounded by friends who are striking it rich in the thriving economy. He also said he hoped the show would contain more a couple surprises for the audience.
Posey is one of the "it" girls of independent film, having appeared in dozens of low budget features, including "The House of Yes," "Waiting for Guffman," "The Daytrippers," "Henry Fool," "SubUrbia," "Basquiat" and "Party Girl." Though she possesses a theatre background, Dwarf will mark her Broadway debut.
Schlossberg said the real Posey is nothing like her off-beat screen image. Furthermore, the role she plays on stage is atypical for her. "As you will see," said the producer, "she plays a typical New York housewife." Schlossberg couldn't recall who suggested casting Posey, but said the actress was heartily approved by all involved, including May, Arkin and Broderick. "We needed someone in their 30s; someone who the audience knew; someone who knew comedy; and someone who could play with Matthew Broderick," he said, then added, laughing, "Actually those requirements should probably be in reverse order." Broderick has been seen on the stage quite a bit of late. "He's one of the few movies stars that's very consistent," about doing theatre, noted Schlossberg. Broderick bowed on Broadway just last season in the National Actors Theatre staging of the thriller Night Must Fall. Other credits include How to Succeed..., for which he won a Tony and a recent reading of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Dwarf represents his first stage comedy in many years.
Director Arkin is best known for his film work (Catch 22, Simon) but his theatre credits include directing The Soft Touch in Boston in 1975 and Jules Feiffer's The White House Murder Case Off Broadway in 1970, as well as the original Sunshine Boys and Little Murders. May's plays include Adaptation, Not Enough Rope and Mr. Gogol And Mr. Preen.
Dwarf will run about 95 minutes without intermission. Asked about Dwarf's prospects as the new only comedy on Broadway, Schlossberg joked, "It couldn't hurt!"