Matthew Broderick, J. Smith-Cameron and Judy Parfitt finally step out of the shadows of Broadway previews March 8, when the National Actors Theatre staging of Night Must Fall opens at the Lyceum Theatre.
The role of a murderer is new for the fresh-faced, boyish Broderick, best known for movies such as "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "War Games" and Broadway's Brighton Beach Memoirs and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
The limited run continues to April 18. Previews began Feb. 2.
The 1935 Emlyn Williams thriller is directed by John Tillinger (Broadway's Getting and Spending and The Sunshine Boys) on a set by James Noone in tones of black, white and gray. The visual experience is akin to an eerie, black-and-white movie, according to insiders. Lighting is by Brian MacDevitt.
Parfitt ("The Jewel in the Crown," "Dolores Claiborne") is making her Broadway debut as Mrs. Bramson, an English matron who takes suspected killer Broderick into her home, much to the suspicion of her niece, played by Smith-Cameron. Smith-Cameron, known for playing tart and funny characters -- most notably Alexa Vere de Vere in Off-Broadway's As Bees in Honey Drown -- came to the production while it was still in previews, replacing Pamela J. Gray.
The Feb. 16 announcement of recasting, a matter of "creative differences" (according to a production spokesperson), bumped the official opening of the revival to March 8 rather than the previously announced Feb. 21.
National Actors Theatre general manager Fred Walker previously told Playbill On-Line that no matter how positive potential reviews are, there can be no significant extension with Broderick in the role because of the actor's commitment to appear in Horton Foote's The Death of Papa May 27-June 27 at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut.
Broderick won a Tony Award for the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He has also appeared in Master Harold...and the boys and Torch Song Trilogy.
The Night Must Fall company includes Michael Countryman, Seana Kofoed, Patricia Kilgarriff, Peter McRobbie.
Jess Goldstein designed costumes and Aural Fixation designed the sound.
For ticket information, call (212) 239-6200.
After a London staging in 1935, Night Must Fall premiered at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 1936. Director-playwright Williams also played the lead role of Dan (the Broderick role), a bellboy in a resort town hired as a servant by Mrs. Bramson. Mrs. Bramson's niece is suspicious of Dan, following a local murder. Other plays by (George) Emlyn Williams include The Corn is Green and The Druid's Rest. A 1937 film version of Night Must Fall starred Rosalind Russell.
Tony Randall has singlemindedly and tirelessly boosted the nonprofit NAT, which he founded in the early 1990s as a way of getting the finest contemporary actors to perform seldom-seen classics and stretch their acting muscles.
Some of the productions have been successful, including a recent Randall Jack Klugman teaming on The Sunshine Boys, and Brian Bedford in Shakespeare's Timon of Athens. But the company has struggled. A lauded 1996 revival of Inherit the Wind with George C. Scott and Charles Durning closed prematurely when Scott developed problems with his health and personal life. Randall understudied his part.
NAT's recent Broadway revival of The Gin Game performed to half full houses despite the presence of Durning and Julie Harris. Nevertheless, Gin Game has toured nationally with Durning and Harris since Oct. 27, 1998 in Raleigh-Durham NC. The tour continues in Florida, Washington DC and then to its final stop, Boston's Wilbur Theatre, closing May 16.
The Chicago stop of the show in 1998 earned Harris and Durning Joseph Jefferson Awards.