Paper Doll, the new play by Mark Hampton and Barbara Zitwer about outrageous author Jacqueline Susann, has lost its latest leading lady.
Andrea Martin, who was announced recently for a Long Wharf Theatre production of the once-Broadway-bound property, has withdrawn from the show, due to another commitment, a spokesperson confirmed.
Long Wharf is currently searching for a replacement.
Martin joins a growing list of one-time and almost-were Susanns. Marlo Thomas, who starred in the work in Pittsburgh, was once set to play Susann on Broadway in early 2002. As spring passed into summer, Fran Drescher was reported for the Susann role and a Broadway arrival bumped back to October 2002.
F. Murray Abraham is still attached to the Long Wharf mounting, which will have Leonard Foglia at the helm. Abraham starred opposite Thomas as Irving Mansfield, Susann's husband-manager, in the play's world premiere at Pittsburgh Public Theater in late 2001. In February March 2002, the slightly revised play had a run in North Carolina. The play was to be fast-tracked to Broadway's Cort Theatre for spring 2002, but producer Wreghitt and his partners decided to bide their time. In North Carolina, the cast included Thomas and Abraham, with Joanne Genelle in multiple roles and Adrian Rieder as Susann protégé Jésus. (Armando Rodriguez originated the role in Pittsburgh.) A black poodle is part of the play, too.
At the time, Wreghitt was partnering with MARS Theatricals (Amy Danis and Mark Johannes), in association with Montauk Highway and others on the commercial run. A clutch of New York producers made the trip to Pittsburgh to see the production, and more traveled south to North Carolina.
In Pittsburgh, wildly divided reviews met the punchy play by Hampton and Zitwer. Audiences reportedly ate up the naughty jokes and references made by Susann and Mansfield, who both promoted Susann's trashy fiction ("Valley of the Dolls") to the best seller lists.
The play included direct-address and monologues, as well as more conventional narrative scenes; the work has been described as somewhat nonlinear.
The flamboyant, troubled Susann died of cancer in 1974. Susann prefigured the celebrity trash lit authors of today. The recent film, "Isn't She Great" also focused on Susann, with Bette Midler as the sassy, outlandish, rags to-riches author. Part of the new play is set in Pittsburgh in 1971. F. Murray Abraham won the Academy Award for "Amadeus."
Co-author Hampton memorably co-wrote Full Gallop, the Diana Vreeland solo play, with actress writer Mary Louise Wilson. With longtime friend Stuart Ross, creator of Forever Plaid, he recently co authored a musical based on the life of the '30s singing trio, the Boswell Sisters, which recently had its world premiere at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre. Co-author Zitwer is the founder and owner of an international literary agency based in New York City, Barbara J. Zitwer Agency. She is also a film and television producer and her feature films include the cult classic, "Vampire's Kiss," starring Nicholas Cage. Zitwer is the author of the "Magic of the Ocean" series published by Warner Books. Paper Doll is her first play.
The dates of the New Haven, CT, run are March 5-April 6, 2003. The show is presented by special arrangement with Randall L. Wreghitt and in association with Montauk Highway, Inc., who plan to shepherd it to a commercial run.
—By Robert Simonson
and Kenneth Jones