Here comes Mrs. Jordan. Or rather, here comes plain old Jordan. The Westport Country Playhouse has broken the sex barrier and the race barrier in its new revival of the classic comic fantasy, Heaven Can Wait. Leslie Uggams, recently seen on Broadway in August Wilson's King Hedley II, will play "Jordan," the heavenly major domo who tries to guide the lost soul of Joe Pendleton back to Earth. In the many film versions of the play, the role of Jordan has been played by the likes of Claude Rains and James Mason.
In Heaven Can Wait, Pendleton is snatched from an accident by Angel #7013 to join the heavenly choir. Trouble is, Joe was meant to survive that crash and live another 50 years. Now, the angel's boss, Jordan, must find Pendleton a new body to inhabit. The dead man settles on an about-to-be murdered millionaire.
The Westport production, directed by Joe Grifasi, will begin Aug. 8 and run through Aug. 25.
Uggams' other stage roles include The Boyfriend, Hallelujah Baby!, Blues in the Night, Jerry's Girls, Anything Goes, The Old Settler, and Play On!.
Peter Rini will play Joe Pendleton, with Bruce Weitz (of "Hill Street Blues") as Max, the only person who can recognize Joe in his new form. Rounding out the eclectic cast is playwright and sometime actor Keith Reddin, who plays the screw-up messenger 7013, as well as Mia Barron, John Bowman, Jerry Finnegan, Mary Fogarty, Stephen McKinley. The designers are Ted Simpson (sets), Jacqueline Firkins (costumes), Susan Roth (lights) and David Budries (sound).
The remaining season will run as follows:
• Heaven Can Wait, directed by Joe Grifasi, Aug. 8-25
• Temporary Help by David Wiltse, by Gordon Edelstein, Aug. 29 Sept. 15
For more information, call (203) 227-4177.
—By Robert Simonson