Helmond ("Who's the Boss," The Great God Brown) was to originally star as family matriarch Therese Marie in Guirgis' New York-set memory play. The production delayed the start of previews earlier this week and was originally scheduled to open Nov. 6 at the Lillian Theatre. Previews begin Nov. 6.
According to representatives, Helmond exited the production due to an unexpected schedule shift related to prior contractual obligations. In her absence, Melanie Jones will step into the role. David Fofi directs the production that will run through Dec. 19. It is the first time Little Flower has been produced since it's Off-Broadway debut at the Public Theater in 2008.
"Losing Katherine was devastating news for us, but we couldn't be more thrilled that Melanie, a highly accomplished and respected actress, was available to step in so we could accommodate Katherine's unexpected schedule shift," Fofi said in a statement.
The West Coast debut of Little Flower is presented as a partnership between the New York's LAByrinth Theater Company (where Guirgis serves as artistic director) and the Los Angeles theatre ensemble Elephant Theatre Company.
The cast also features Michael Friedman, LeShay Tomlinson Boyce, Kim Estes, Alejandro Furth, Kate Huffman, Timothy McNeil, Marisa O'Brien, Mark Adair-Rios, Tom Stanczyk and Tim Starks. Little Flower has production design by Joel Daavid, costume design by Louis Douglas Jacobs and sound design by Matt Richter. Lindsay Allbaugh and Tara Norris produce the play for Elephant Theatre Company.
Little Flower "begins as Therese Marie arrives in the emergency room of a small hospital in the Bronx. The nurses and doctors assume she is just another faceless charity case; abandoned, elderly and unable to even tell them her name. But Therese Marie's dementia is not all that it seems and when her prodigal son Danny returns to New York, Therese Marie must fight to maintain her dignity as he imposes upon her the ugly secrets of their past. In this inter-generational ghost story, we observe a searing portrait of a mother and son who must face a long family legacy of abuse in order to find the true meaning of grace."
Guirgis' plays include Jesus Hopped the A Train, In Arabia We'd All Be Kings, Our Lady Of 121st Street, Den Of Thieves and Dominica The Fat Ugly Ho. His latest play, Motherf**ker with the Hat, will arrive on Broadway in spring 2011 starring Chris Rock, Bobby Cannavale and Annabella Sciorra.
The Lillian Theatre is located at 1076 N. Lillian Way, in Hollywood.