Anne Bancroft—perhaps following the example of Nathan Lane, the star of her husband Mel Brooks' musical The Producers—will not perform eight shows a week in The Occupant, the Off-Broadway Edward Albee premiere at the Signature Theatre Company. On Saturday matinees, Kathleen Butler will perform the lead role.
Bancroft is only the latest star of the New York stage to take on a lighter load than the usual eight-show-a-week standard. Lane cut back to six performances, owing to persistent throat problems. Elaine Stritch will do a five-show week when her solo, At Liberty, reaches Broadway, with show representatives citing the piece's rigorous nature and Stritch's advanced age. And Kevin Bacon will skip certain matinees of Heather McDonald's one-man play, An Almost Holy Picture, a Roundabout Theatre Company production.
Neal Huff, whose recent roles have ranged from the last Broadway revival of A Lion in Winter to Visiting Mr. Green at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, has been tapped for the co-starring role in Edward Albee's Occupant, due Feb. 5-April 7 at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company.
Anthony Page, whose revival of A Doll's House lit up Broadway in 1997, directs Huff and Anne Bancroft in the work, titled Edward Albee's Occupant. No, the italics aren't misguided; the play, formerly titled The Occupant, has seemingly taken a page from Gore Vidal's The Best Man and included its author in the title. The two-character piece officially opens Feb. 24. The play covers the life of sculptor Louise Nevelson, to be played by Bancroft.
"It's about a woman fighting the traditions and conventions she was forced into in order to find her own path in life," Bancroft was quoted as saying. "And that's not just a problem for her or even just women. It's a problem for everyone: how do you find your own path?"
—By Robert Simonson