Coaxing Meryl Streep back into a theatrical mode after all these years of film fame and acclaim is not an easy proposition--but it's a do-able one, it seems.
Last October when Streep rose to the bait of the initial reading of a new play by an old friend--Wendy Wasserstein's An American Daughter--she was outfitted in all-star support: Whoopi Goldberg, Len Cariou, Phoebe Cates, Victor Garber (subbing for Kevin Kline), John Benjamin Hickey, Cynthia Nixon and Cotter Smith.
When the play (and Streep) went into Phase Two--a June 14-16 workshop at the Seattle Repertory Theatre--a quite decent, more realistic cast was corralled. Streep and Smith were the only returnees. Filling in the supporting roles were Adam Arkin, Penny Fuller, Liev Schreiber, Julianne Moore, William Biff McGuire, David Paul Wichert, Hunt Holman and Karen Kandel.
Daniel Sullivan, Seattle Rep's artistic head who brought two other Wasserstein plays (The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig) to Broadway, helmed.
An American Daughter, which takes place in present-day Washington, concerns an eighth-generation granddaughter of Ulysses S. Grant and specialist on health care issues, who is nominated for the cabinet post of Health and Human Services. When it emerges that she once dodged the system and got away with it because of her friends and affluence, the press have a field day, and public opinion steeply declines. From this no-win situation, she must decide whether to pursue the nomination (and risk a battle at her congressional hearings) or decline it (and become a victim, disappointing the feminist/liberal front). "It's a sad play, with comic overtones, about the unfolding of a woman's life," Wasserstein has said by way of characterizing the new opus.
The play has been dated for the spring at Broadway's Cort Theatre, but naturally nobody is commenting right now about Streep being aboard.