The Cape Playhouse of Dennis, MA, will host Thumbs, the new thriller by Rupert Holmes, through July 13. The show began its run on July 1.
Thumbs debuted earlier this year at the Helen Hayes Theatre Company in Nyack, NY, and a future somewhere in New York City is likely. As at the Hayes, Kathie Lee Gifford and Diana Canova star.
The play concerns two women from different walks of life who come face to face with a (naturally) "devilishly clever" murderer. "I tried to do something that hadn't been done before," Holmes told Playbill On-Line. "In this form" — meaning the thriller, a genre Holmes admits to being smitten with — "there are lots of showcases for two men, but not many for two women."
Gifford plays "a delightfully devious diva" who once had a thriving career in films, then slumped, and is now making a comeback in television. The other major character, played by Diana Canova (of "Soap" fame), is a female Sheriff in the small Vermont town where the play is set (there is an isolated cabin involved, rest assured). The Sheriff is on the trail of a serial killer, whose perverse predilection — he cuts off people's thumbs — gives the play its title. Holmes called Thumbs "a mystery comedy." "It's not just a whodunnit, but a whydunnit," added Holmes.
Holmes' Say Goodnight, Gracie will open on Broadway this fall. *
Even during its leanest years, the Cape Playhouse has always attracted a star or two for each of its summer seasons. But the 2003 line-up has yielded a bumper crop of names.
The Best Man by Gore Vidal, for example, boasts the best cast of the Cape season: Anita Gillette (Encores!' Bloomer Girl), Billy Campbell (TV's "Once and Again"), William Moses and Celia Weston (The Last Night of Ballyhoo). Philip Bosco was to have appeared, but dropped out. The political drama had a Broadway revival a couple years ago.
The season continues with the Gershwin musical My One and Only with John Scherer and Jeanna Scheweppe (July 29-Aug. 10); the regional premiere of Charles Busch's The Tale of the Allergist's Wife (Aug. 12-24) with Marj Dusay, David Hedison and Robin Strasser; the WWII revue Swingtime Canteen (Aug. 26-Sept. 7); and oldfriends.com (Sept. 10-15) by Cape Cod playwright Marcia J. Monbleau.
The last is a rare world premiere for the Cape Playhouse. oldfriends.com is a modern spin on plays like Love Letters and 84 Charing Cross Road, with two friends corresponding across the Atlantic and across the years through e-mails. The show may have a future beyond its Dennis staging.
For ticket information, call (508) 385-3911.
—By Robert Simonson