After a three-week tryout at the Helen Hayes Theatre in Nyack, NY, Scent of the Roses, starring Julie Harris, will open at Broadway's Belasco Theatre Dec. 1. Producer Arthur Cantor hopes to begin Broadway previews Thanksgiving weekend in November. The Belasco's last tenant was a revival of Anouilh's Ring Round The Moon.
Rehearsals for Roses, by South African playwright Lisette Lecat Ross, begin in late September. The Broadway production will be an open run.
Scent of the Roses was first produced with Harris at Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre, July-Aug. 1998. ACT artistic director Gordon Edelstein staged the show, and he'll do so again for the New York mounting. Five-time Tony winner (and ten-time nominee) Harris will recreate her role as Annalise Morant, a South African woman whose children wish her to part with her most cherished possession: a mysterious and valuable painting. The drama unfolds as we discover what special significance the artist and the painting hold for Annalise.
Harris is currently in Chicago finishing an extended run of the play Winter. Prior to that, she toured opposite Charles Durning in the National Actors Theatre's The Gin Game, through May 16.
Casting for the seven other roles in Roses is still underway and expected completed by the end of the month. Producer Cantor told Playbill On-Line it's unlikely the other roles will feature "name" actors. An October 1998 ACT press release noted that the Seattle design team of Thomas Lynch (set), Martin Pakledinaz (costumes), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting) and John Gromada (sound, music) will also design the New York production.
For several months after announcing the project, producer Cantor debated whether to bring the play to Broadway of Off-Broadway, owing to the scarcity of Broadway houses and the financing required for a Broadway production. Ultimately, he and co-producer Carol Ostrow decided on Broadway, with a capitalization of $1,250,000. "It's not easy to raise the money now," said veteran producer Cantor. "The high cost of production is more than a metaphor. The highest I'd ever raised previously was three quarters of a million for A Little Family Business with Angela Lansbury. Back then, units were $4-5,000 apiece; now they're $20-30,000. That's a lot."
As for the play itself, Cantor said, "I know the fashion now is to bring in all these plays from London, but this is an English kind of play. I can see it doing very well in the West End. In fact, if it does well here, it'll go to London. I would think they'd love her."
Other plays by Lecat Ross include Moment of Truth and Pluperfect Subjunctives.
Producer Cantor's credits include The Tenth Man and All The Way Home, as well as Off-Broadway's Beau Jest and A Room of One's Own.
-- By David Lefkowitz