Playbill.com has learned that Tony winner Linda Lavin, who will be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in January 2011, will play the role of Hattie Walker in the Kennedy Center Follies, which will be directed by Signature Theatre artistic director Eric Schaeffer (Million Dollar Quartet) with choreography by Warren Carlyle (Finian's Rainbow).
Lavin joins the previously announced Bernadette Peters, who will play Sally Durant Plummer. Performance dates are May 7-June 5, 2011, in the Eisenhower Theater.
Actress-singer Lavin will get the chance to belt out the Sondheim classic "Broadway Baby" in the 1971 musical about the reunion of a group of former follies stars. "I've seen many versions of Follies over the [years], and it's such a charming song, and it feels like it's such an old-fashioned song that when you hear it, you feel that it was something that was written in one's childhood," Lavin told Playbill.com Oct. 14. "It's a real old-fashioned Broadway tune, and it certainly has the heart and soul of the passion of being a Broadway performer, a wanna-be, of the beginnings that all of us who've made a life in the theatre can identify with. So it's very satisfying and a charming piece of theatre literature and music, so I'm very excited about it. Very excited." The Tony winner says she has never worked with Peters, and "I've never worked with Danny [Burstein, who will play Buddy]. I'm thrilled about that."
It's an especially busy time for the acclaimed stage and screen star, who will also join Stockard Channing, Stacy Keach and Elizabeth Marvel in Other Desert Cities, the new play from John Robin Baitz, which will premiere Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater in December under the direction of Joe Mantello.
"I just got a copy of a rewrite," Lavin noted about the Baitz play. "I love a playwright who's working. I love working with [a] living playwright. I've never worked with Robby Baitz or Joe Mantello, two extraordinarily talented theatre people. I've never worked with Stockard. I have worked with Stacy. I did an Arthur Miller play with Stacy Keach. Elizabeth Marvel [is a] wonderful young actress. "[Other Desert Cities is] about a family living out in Palm Springs, California," Lavin continued. "I play Stockard's sister. I play a writer who's come to visit from Hollywood, just out of rehab. So that's as much as I know!" she said with a laugh. "I play a straight shooter, a straight talker, somebody who will come back at people with her opinions about how things are … A wonderful part, very powerful. [The play] has a strong sister relationship — a lot of stuff that happened that needs to be addressed. So a lot of drama and comedy all wrapped up as only he can do. He's just a great writer, one of our great writers, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."
Lavin, who resides in North Carolina, where she runs a community theatre with her husband, is equally excited by the recent announcement that she will be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. "I'm very excited and I am completely honored and surprised," she said. "It's not something I ever have given any thought to, and I love the fact that it came out of the blue and that it comes as an affirmation of a life in the theatre. It just means a great deal to me."
Linda Lavin won Tony and Drama Desk awards for Broadway Bound, Drama Desk awards for The New Century and Little Murders, and a Theatre World Award for Wet Paint. She has also appeared on Broadway in Collected Stories, Hollywood Arms, The Tale of The Allergist's Wife, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Sisters Rosensweig, Gypsy, Story Theatre, Last of the Red-Hot Lovers, Something Different, "It's a Bird…It's a Plane…It's Superman and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Off-Broadway in Death Defying Acts and The Mad Show.
Performances of Follies will play Tuesday through Sunday evenings in the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater at 7:30 PM. Beginning May 14, matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons will run at 1:30 PM. Tickets starting at $45 will go on sale on Jan. 30, 2011, at noon at the Kennedy Center box office or by calling Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600. For more information visit Kennedy-center.org.