Clans Clash in Elvis and Juliet, With Fred Willard as The King

News   Clans Clash in Elvis and Juliet, With Fred Willard as The King
Fred Willard, star of such film mockumentaries was "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show," is dressed as Elvis in a new Off-Broadway play opening June 7.

This indicates that he is not acting in a revival of Ibsen's The Master Builder or Strindberg's The Father. Still, he is playing a patriarch in the new comedy, Elvis and Juliet, by his wife Mary Willard.

Future in-laws clash in the play when the daughter of conservatives falls in love with the scion of a family of Vegas tribute artists. Previews began June 2 in a production by The Abingdon Theatre Company.

Yvonne Conybeare directs the play about college sweethearts Juliet Jones and Elvis Lesley, whose "upcoming nuptials will soon face the truest test of love—watching their two families come together for the first time." Juliet is from a family of "conservative Connecticut academics," while Elvis hails from "a flamboyant Las Vegas clan of tribute artists."

The work is billed as "a comedy about culture clash, family values and a little hunka-hunka burning love."

Fred Willard ("Everybody Loves Raymond") plays "The King" of the Lesley clan, and David Rasche (Manhattan Theatre Club's Moonlight and Magnolias, TV's "Sledge Hammer") is "his Rat Pack-lovin' brother." The cast also features Bridget Clark, Lori Gardner (as Juliet), Warren Kelley (as the Connecticut dad), Haskell King (as Elvis), Christy McIntosh, Carole Monferdini, Pamela Paul and Justin Schultz.


Mary Willard is the author of the plays An Occasional Sin and Actors Anonymous: The Twelve Step Program. Her short plays Chateaux Beaux Eaux, At The Vanity Fair, Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch and The Old Folks at Home have been performed in several cities; her short play Murder, She Rewrote has been performed in over 12 cities and three countries.

Moon Shine!, a musical with book and lyrics by Mary Willard and music and lyrics by Marty Stuart, was presented at the ASCAP/Disney Musical theatre workshop at the Disney Studios in Burbank in 2003. Moon Shine! premiered in Upland, CA at the Grove Theatre in May 2004.

Yvonne Conybeare directed Hunka Hunka Santa Claus by Mary Willard two years ago at the Gallery Players, and directed a reading of Willard's Seven Deadly Sins at the Abingdon Theatre in the summer of 2005. She is resident director at the Metropolitan Playhouse of Manhattan, where she has directed six revivals of "important and neglected" American plays and three original one-acts.

Set design is by Ray Recht, costume design is by Ingrid Maurer, lighting design is by David Castaneda, production manager is Gabriel Hainer Evansohn and production stage manager is Eric Selk.

Performances of Elvis and Juliet will play Tuesday–Saturday at 7:30 PM with weekend matinees on Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM in the June Havoc Theatre at Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex, 312 West 36th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased through SmartTix:, by calling (212) 868-4444, or at the box office prior to the show.


Abingdon Theatre Company, founded in 1993, "is dedicated to developing and producing new plays by American playwrights." Artistic directors for Abingdon Theatre Company are Jan Buttram and Pamela Paul, and Samuel J. Bellinger is the managing director.

From Left: David Rasche and Fred Willard in <i>Elvis and Juliet</i>.
From Left: David Rasche and Fred Willard in Elvis and Juliet. Photo by Kim T. Sharp
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