Roundabout's Sweet Bird Flies Away, New Entry TBA

News   Roundabout's Sweet Bird Flies Away, New Entry TBA
Although Roundabout is currently gearing up for its Broadway revival of Little Me starring Martin Short and Faith Prince and Beth Henley's Impossible Marriage, starring Holly Hunter, they won't be flying off with Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth as previously announced.

Although Roundabout is currently gearing up for its Broadway revival of Little Me starring Martin Short and Faith Prince and Beth Henley's Impossible Marriage, starring Holly Hunter, they won't be flying off with Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth as previously announced.

According to Roundabout spokesperson, Erin Dunn, another production for the Mainstage slot will be named later this season.

The 1959 drama, Sweet Bird of Youth, charts the downfall of a pretty-boy who dreams of Hollywood success, until he encounters a former film star intent on consuming him.

In other Roundabout season news, following Henley's Marriage at the Pels, Jan. 6, 1999, is Paula Vogel's The Mineola Twins. Vogel is the author of The Baltimore Waltz and How I Learned To Drive, which won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Dunn confirmed last week, that negotiations are in progress to bring Swoosie Kurtz (House of Blue Leaves) in to play the twins but, as of Oct. 14, nothing is confirmed.

Joe Mantello, who starred on Broadway in Angels in America and Off Broadway in Vogel's Baltimore Waltz and directed the current Corpus Christi, directs Mineola Twins. The show concerns identical twins who are exact opposites when it comes to personality. One is a shy all-American girl; the other is an "over-sexed, cigarette smoking, jive talking" high school drop-out. The comedy then takes them through four decades of Long Island life. After the new year, Roundabout Theatre's Broadway Stage Right space will offer a revival of James Goldman's The Lion in Winter. The drama was announced for last season, but star Laurence Fishburne had scheduling problems, so the show will instead begin Feb. 3, 1999, tentatively opening Feb. 25, 1999. Playing opposite Fishburne will be Stockard Channing (Four Baboons Adoring the Sun, Six Degrees of Separation).

The ubiquitous Michael Mayer (Side Man, A View From The Bridge, Stupid Kids, Triumph of Love and the upcoming You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown) will direct this romantic drama about Henry II's love/hate relationship with Eleanor of Aquitaine.

For the past two years, rumors have abounded that NY's Roundabout Theatre was looking to stage Ashes To Ashes by Harold Pinter. When the play didn't show up on the company's 1998-99 season brochure, the assumption was made that the show still wasn't germinating.

However, the show was confirmed by the company's spokesperson as being on the Laura Pels schedule for early 1999. Variety reported early this summer, that Roundabout was in discussions with Miranda Richardson to be the female lead (a role played by Lindsay Duncan in the London staging, which co-starred Stephen Rea and was directed by Pinter), but that apparently won't happen.

Ashes To Ashes opened at London's Royal Court Theatre, Sept. 1996. According to a story in Variety (June 30, 1997), because Pinter wanted to direct, and because the Roundabout then wanted original stars Rea (Someone Who'll Watch Over Me) and Duncan, setting a date in the 1997-98 season became impossible.

At the time, Dunn told Playbill On-Line (July 3, 1997) several different scenarios could play out. "It's very up in the air and may or may not happen, though, of course, we hope it does."

The final Pels show (May 1999) will be the New York premiere of Richard Greenberg's new play, Hurrah at Last, according to William Morris' George Lane, who reps Greenberg. As at South Coast Repertory, where the play premiered this spring, David Warren will direct.

Hurrah at Last is set on Christmas Eve in a posh Manhattan loft and has been described as a play that "demonstrates how we manage to avoid homicides with our families over a holiday period."

The South Coast Rep production starred Judith Blazer (Titanic), Peter Frechette (Greenberg's Eastern Standard and Night and Her Stars), Ileen Getz and Bradley Whitford.

Greenberg, who resides in NY, is the author of numerous plays including Eastern Standard, Night and Her Stars, and Three Days of Rain -- which had its world premiere in 1997 at South Coast Rep and went on to an acclaimed run at the Manhattan Theatre Club.

Hurrah's director, Warren, staged Night and Her Stars and more recently directed Misalliance at NY's Roundabout Theatre and the world premiere of Barry Manilow's Harmony at the La Jolla Playhouse in CA.

As for the following season (1999-00), Dear World, Jerry Herman's musicalization of The Madwoman of Chaillot, is being considered for a 30th-anniversary spin. One of the original Jerry's Girls, Chita Rivera, has been pegged to star, though any kind of staging plans are still in the rumor stage.

Director Scott Ellis pulled together a workshop to that effect and put the project into rehearsal Mar. 30 for a staged-reading presentation two weeks later. David Thomson, who worked with Ellis on And the World Goes 'Round and Steel Pier, is revising the musical's book, which Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee adapted from the famous Jean Giradoux play.

The original Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Joe Layton and produced by Alexander H. Cohen, opened Feb. 6, 1969, at the Mark Hellinger Theatre and ran only 132 performances -- but this was enough for Angela Lansbury to win the second of her four Tony Awards.

The show reunited Lansbury with her Mame authors, but it suffered from comparison--although Herman's score is still hailed as one of his most melodic; some of the songs have gone on to become cult favorites and evergreens ("And I Was Beautiful," "I Don't Want To Know," "I've Never Said I Love You," "Kiss Her Now," "One Person," the title tune, et al).

A dream cast, almost all Tony winners, is being assembled to support Rivera's Countess Aurelia. Debra (Ah, Wilderness!) Monk and Madeline (The Sisters Rosensweig) Kahn will play Gabrielle and Constance, the other two madwomen originated by Jane Connell and Carmen Matthews, and Audra (Ragtime) MacDonald is doing the Pamela Hall part of Nina. In Milo O'Shea's role of Sewerman is Alfred Molina (Art).

"We're just going to work on it the first two weeks in April," says Ellis. "Then, we'll do the reading and see how it feels, see what we have."

Rivera told Playbill On-Line (Mar. 12), "We'll bring it in [to NY] but not until we get it perfect."

-- By Sean McGrath

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