After nearly two years on the road and on Broadway, Rachel York has departed Victor/Victoria to pursue greener pastures on the West Coast. She elected not to renew her contract with the Blake Edwards/Henry Mancini/Leslie Bricusse musical and played her last performance as gangster moll Norma Cassidy on April 27. The role is now being play Tara O'Brien. As a reminder, Julie Andrews' final performance will be June 1, with Raquel Welch beginning June 3. Within weeks of Dream's opening, Jane Summerhays, standby for star Lesley Ann Warren, left the production; Warren's standby is now Mary Ellen Stuart.
The past several weeks have seen some notable cast turnover at the venerable Cats, foremost being the departure of Liz Callaway in the central role of Grizabella. Callaway's final performance was April 23; she's currently in rehearsals for Hartford Stage's The Gershwins - Fascinating Rhythm, which begins performances May 10. Laurie Beechman takes over the role of Grizabella May 19, exactly one month before the feline musical celebrates its record-breaking performance. In the meantime, standbys Heidi Stallings and Sally Ann Swarm are alternating in the role of the cat who rides a levitating tire to redemption. In recent weeks, Cats has seen Jill Nicklaus (Tantomile), Philip Michael Baskerville (Plato/Macavity/Rumpus Cat), and Billy Johnstone (Coricopat) join (or rejoin) the cast.
With awards season in full swing, I can't resist handing out a Busiest Designer of the Year award to John Lee Beatty, who, this past season, has designed sets for Chicago (in its many venues), Once Upon a Mattress, Sweet Adeline, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Promises, Promises, An American Daughter, Sympathetic Magic, The Little Foxes, and The Boys from Syracuse (the last four opening in a period of three weeks).