Hollywood Arms a new play by Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett to be directed by Harold Prince at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, has its first bits of casting. Tony winner Frank Wood (Side Man) will star in the autobiographical play, and Variety reports he will be joined by Linda Lavin, most recently of Tale of the Allergist's Wife.
The Goodman has not officially announced any casting, but a spokesman for Wood confirmed his involvement. Additional auditions for the piece begin next week in New York City. The play will run April 19-May 25, moved up from the originally announced fall 2000. Hollywood Arms replaces the previously announced Amy Freed play The Beard of Avon; the latter will be rescheduled for the 2002-03 season. (The addition of the Burnett-Hamilton play means the Goodman will present three productions in 2001-02 which will more than likely reach New York City soon after: The Visit from earlier this fall; the upcoming revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night starring Brian Dennehy; and, now, Hollywood Arms.)
The play, based on Burnett's best-selling memoir "One More Time," chronicles the life of a woman named Helen in a pre- and post-World War II Hollywood. The piece contains a cavalcade of characters including a pill-popping Christian Scientist grandmother who cares for the heroine when her parents divorce, a wide-eyed and distant mother who longs to be a celebrity interviewer and a recovering drunk father who wants to be the daddy he never was.
Writer-director Hamilton, daughter of Burnett, started the ball rolling on the project. She was skeptical to take on the adaptation alone, as she says in a release from the Goodman, "having only written screenplays, I didn’t think I’d be up to the task." So when mom Burnett suggested to co write the play with her, she was "thrilled."
When Burnett sent a rough draft to "a close friend" for a personal suggestion on someone to helm the work, the friend volunteered himself. When the friend is 20-time Tony-winner Harold Prince, the mother daughter team could not pass up the opportunity. Prince who stated that he loves "working in the new Goodman," went to his friend, Goodman artistic director Robert Falls, and the final piece of the puzzle was set. For more information on the Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn Street in Chicago, IL, call (312) 443-3800 or visit them on the web at www.goodman theatre.org.