Tony Walton directs a staged reading of The Royal Family, by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. The one-night-only event stars Mercedes Ruehl, Marian Seldes, Paul Hecht, Daniel Gerroll, Jack Ryland, Julie Halston, Jessica Grové, Shashi Balooja, Kate Mueth, and Josh Gladstone.
The renowned Cavendish family comprises three generations of legendary American actors. There is Fanny Cavendish, widow of the first actor of his day, who at seventy is planning her tour for the coming season. There is her brother Herbert, a pompous player now in his decline. Fanny's daughter Julie is at the crest of her Broadway career and her son Tony has forsaken the stage for Hollywood. Granddaughter Gwen is just beginning to play important ingenue roles. Tony rushes home and then flees to Europe to escape the attention of a Polish picture actress. Soon he is back in New York, seeking refuge from a lovesick Balkan princess. Gwen jolts the family by marrying a non professional and temporarily forsaking the stage. Through it all, Fanny rules the family with her courage and a sharp tongue. Though her children are idols to the public, they are defenseless under the withering fire of her sarcasm.