Frank Langella, last seen fleeing the London production of Over the Moon in which he and co-star Joan Collins reportedly didn't see eye to eye, will join Alan Bates and Bates' son, Benedick Bates, in a rarely staged Turgenev play adapted by Michael Poulton, Fortune's Fool. The play will try out at the Stamford Center for the Arts (CT), Feb. 22-March 3, 2002 as a "pre-Broadway engagement," and then open at Broadway's Music Box Theatre April 2, after previews starting March 8. Noted film director and Tony winner Arthur Penn ("Bonnie and Clyde") will helm, with Jane Greenwood creating the costumes, Brian Nason (1776), the lighting, Brian Ronan (Cabaret) the sound and John Arnone the set.
Poulton's play will be produced by SFS Productions (Julian Schlossberg, Roy L. Furman and Ben Sprecher), Ted Tulchin and Aaron Levy, in association with actress Rita Gam.
As reported by Variety, the show's three lead producers formed the "SFS" production company, which has either secured the rights to, or commissioned new works from, A.R. Gurney, Kenneth Lonergan, Elaine May and Edna O'Brien. SFS will produce for both Broadway and Off, with budgets for the former running $1.5-2 million and the latter in the $600 $800K range. "We have a multimillion-dollar fund to produce new work," Furman told Variety. Added Sprecher, "We're interested in producing theater that is artistically interesting as well as potentially profitable. It's not about making money back. It's about making a profit." No word yet on the capitalization for Fortune's Fool. Further casting is expected by early December.
Actor Langella played husband to Collins wife in the West End bow of Ken Ludwig's Moon Over Buffalo, retitled Over the Moon for English audiences unfamiliar with the Great Lakes city. Langella left the production last week after only a brief stay in the comedy. The actor's last Broadway credit was Present Laughter, directed by Scott Elliott. His most recent New York appearance was as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.
Actor Bates, a Tony winner for 1973's Butley and a film star via "An Unmarried Woman" and "Women in Love." recently donated £50,000 to The Actors' Centre in Covent Garden. It was a display of both generosity and family loyalty in helping refurbish the Tristan Bates Theatre, the Centre's auditorium. The theatre, which Bates helped found, is named in honor of his son, a model, who died at age 19, some ten years ago, of complications following an asthma attack when working in Japan. Bates's other son, Tristan's twin, is the aforementioned Benedick Bates who appeared earlier this year at the Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue, in Thelma Holt's production of Noel Coward's Semi Monde. Before Fortune's Fool he's been touring with his father in a stage version of Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray. The Stamford Center recently held the pre-New York run of the musical Summer of `42. The season will also see a transfer of Long Wharf Theatre's An Infinite Ache (Jan. 29-Feb. 3, 2002).
Poulton's Fortune's Fool, is unrelated to the Frederick Stroppel comedy Fortunes Fools which played Off-Broadway's Cherry Lane Theatre in 1995. According to production spokespersons at The Publicity Office, the Turgenev play, about a cash-poor nobleman confronting his wealthy neighbor, has never been done on Broadway before.