Perhaps it's an actors' truism, but every nerd wants to play Cary Grant, every Jew wants to play Jesus, every salt-of-the-earth wants to play Hitler, and every pin-up wants to play a rocket scientist. No surprise then, that rugged Marlboro man Tom Selleck has always wanted to play the iconoclastic, slovenly and free-spirited Murray Burns in A Thousand Clowns.
Since Selleck has made his fame and fortune as TV's "Magnum P.I.," as well as a movie career that's included "Three Men and a Baby" and "Her Alibi," he can actually make his dream come true. As such, Selleck will be starring in a mounting of A Thousand Clowns, as reported back in late winter. According to co-producer Jeffrey Richards, the production will begin rehearsals Jan. 2, 2001. Tickets will go onsale in October, with casting to happen in the fall. According to Duke University Drama marketing director Anna Upchurch, performances will run at Duke University Feb. 6-25, 2001 (a day earlier than previously announced), with an official opening date still to be decided. A four-city tour will follow, with the show reaching Broadway, April 16. Producer Richards told Playbill On-Line it was too early to confirm the show's itinerary, and that no further casting has been decided.
Author Gardner told Playbill On-Line (Feb. 25) John Rando would direct the comedy, a co-production with Theater Previews at Duke University, producer/press agent Richards and other producers expected to sign on.
In its February story about plans for Clowns, the New York Times noted (Feb. 25) that Selleck had talked to author Herb Gardner about doing the show back in 1996, but that was just when the Roundabout Theatre Company had put their Broadway production together, one that starred Judd Hirsch and Marin Hinkle.
Asked why he'd be interested in the role of a man who shirks work in favor of an easy, careless lifestyle, Selleck, 55, told the Times, "I'm 6'4". I was always being asked to do the other guy, the guy who always gets the girl." Zannie Voss, managing director of Theater Previews at Duke, told Variety (July 31 issue) that she'd been approached by several producers with commercial projects, but Clowns was "really the standout." Duke mounted the Broadway-bound Birdy and Eleanor: An American Love Story last season. An April 2001 workshop production will be chosen in the weeks ahead.