Brava diva! Master Class, Terrence McNally's Tony-winning play about Maria Callas, reached its 500th performance at Broadway's Golden Theatre Thursday, March 20.
Dixie Carter, star of TV's "Designing Women," succeeded Patti LuPone in the role of the opera diva, Jan. 31, with an official re-opening Feb. 20. LuPone had taken over for original star, Zoe Caldwell.
In international Master Class news, LuPone has been confirmed as the London Callas, in a mounting produced by Robert Fox, Robert Whitehead, Lewis Allen and Spring Sirkin. The Fox office and Peter Thompson press office both confirmed that Master Class will open at the Queens Theatre April 30, after beginning previews there April 18. The remaining cast has not yet been announced. Leonard Foglia will direct, with set designer Michael McGarty and costumer Jane Greenwood also repeating their Broadway creations.
Carter is best known for her starring role as Julia Sugarbaker on "Designing Women," which ran for seven seasons. She won a Theatre World Award for playing Belle in the 1975 New York Shakespeare Festival production of Jesse And The Bandit Queen. A fixture on the New York cabaret scene since the days of Julius Monk's Upstairs at the Downstairs revues, Carter made her Off-Broadway debut in 1963 in The Winter's Tale. Her last Broadway appearance was as Melba in the 1976 revival of Pal Joey. Carter has credits in other media as well. Her CD Dixie Carter Sings John Wallowitch Live at the Carlyle was released on the DRG label. Her book Trying To Get to Heaven was published by Simon and Schuster. She's featured in the exercise video "Dixie Carter's Unworkout Video" and in 1994 started her own production company, Little Lambs Inc. Carter is married to actor Hal Holbrook.
Co-star Jay Hunter Morris, who plays Tony the tenor in NY, has been with the show since its first rehearsal before starting its pre-Broadway journey in Philadelphia. In an interview with Newsday's Blake Green (Feb. 16), Morris avoided comparing the three actresses he's worked with but did say, "Zoe's diva exuded this grandeur; Patti's was more emotional; Dixie's has such refinement and poise." Morris also says he was a Callas fan before McNally's play came along, "I love the sense of urgency and drama she portrayed even without singing; her career was so turbulent. She likes to color outside the lines."
Faye Dunaway's Master Class tour opened Jan. 5 at the Paramount in Seattle. After the tour, Dunaway will appear in the film version of Master Class, which she is co-producing with the owner of the film rights, Jon B. Platt.
Starring with Dunaway on tour are Kevin Paul Anderson, Gary Green, Suzan Hanson (in the Audra MacDonald role) and Melinda Klump. Dunaway, who has appeared on Broadway in, among others, A Man for All Seasons and After The Fall was also rumored for a role in Harold Pinter's new play, Ashes to Ashes, which early speculation touted for an Off Broadway debut -- directed by Pinter himself -- at the Laura Pels Theatre in early 1998. "Everything's in the talking stage and it's way too early to speculate," spokesperson Erin Dunn told Playbill On-Line.
Howard Watson, publisher of the London Theatre Guide, told Playbill On Line he wouldn't be surprised if the play eventually shows up in New York, but not in any kind of major production. "The show finished its run at the Royal Court," Watson said of the Lindsay Duncan and Stephen Rea two hander. "Reviews were mixed, and the play is only 60 minutes long. I can't see it playing a Broadway house or even a large Off-Broadway house, it's a very small piece."
In a last bit of Callas news, 1997 marks the 20th anniversary of her death. In commemoration, EMI is re-releasing a full set of her opera recordings.