Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologue—the little solo show that could—will close in early 2003 following more than three years of performances.
The play will end Jan. 5 at Off-Broadway's Westside Theatre. The Vagina Monologues opened Oct. 3, 1999 after previews beginning Sept. 21.
Since early 2000, when writer-performer Ensler left the show, her words have been entrusted to a series of starry actress trios who took the stage for short stints throughout the rest of the run.
Lea DeLaria, Tsidii Le Loka and Phyllis Newman are the current cast, playing through Oct. 20, with Marga Gomez, Lisa Ling and JoBeth Williams taking over for a run Oct. 22-Nov. 10.
The revolving door casting policy has brought some talented actresses and interesting celebrities to the Westside stage. Among the ladies of the Monologues: Oscar nominees and winners Rosie Perez, Amy Irving, Marisa Tomei and Mercedes Ruehl; musical theatre's Audra McDonald, Andrea McArdle, Tsidii Le Loka, Tonya Pinkins, Mary Testa, Carolee Carmello, Ruthie Henshall, Andrea Martin and LaChanze; TV stars Calista Flockhart, Teri Hatcher, Brett Butler, Nell Carter, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Charlotte Rae, Katherine Helmond, Rue McClanahan and Phylicia Rashad; big screen Shakespeare fans Claire Danes and Julia Stiles; rock star Alanis Morisette; comedians Mo Gaffney, Ana Gasteyer, Lea Delaria, Ellen Cleghorne and Marga Gomez; novelist Erica Jong; and New York personality Donna Hanover, ex-wife of Mayor Guiliani. The Vagina Monologues are just that, solo contemplations of a woman's most intimate body part. Ensler interviewed 200 diverse women, including the elderly, African Americans and Bosnian rape victims, asking them a myriad of questions from "What do you call your vagina?" to "If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?"
Ensler first performed The Vagina Monologues at HERE in 1996. Since the play's current Off-Broadway debut, her play Necessary Targets was produced around the world and Off-Broadway in the winter of 2002. Her latest work, The Good Body, has its eye on Broadway in 2004, Ensler has said.
The Good Body, like The Vagina Monologues, is about women, although this time, she is looking at the whole package. It will tell stories of the worldwide effort by women to make themselves beautiful, according to the dictates of their culture. Ensler interviewed women from over 30 countries to discover how they mutilate and manipulate their bodies, from Western liposuction and Botox parties to the brass rings of Thailand's long-necked Padong people and the hijab (headscarf) of the Muslim world.
Tickets are $55. For further information on the Westside engagement, call (212) 239-6200.
— By Christine Ehren