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Isabelle and Roy

Hamlets, Heddas, Heckart, and Rose in Bloom

Charles Nelson finds ETHAN HAWKE finding the Dane, EARTHA KITT's passport to fame, MARTIN SHERMAN's screenplay about a diva dame, and much more.

By New York City
Pretty soon this hamlet we call Gotham will be overrun with movie Hamlets. First, Ethan Hawke has a modern-dress Hamlet hitting screens here on May 12, the first Hamlet of the 21st century (and with a taxi greeting from Eartha Kitt to boot). Campbell Scott also has a Hamlet in the hopper, this one of a roughly 1910 vintage and beginning its month-long lensing on Long Island on April 24, co-directed by Scott and Eric (The Song of Jacob Zulu) Simonson. Casting features Copenhagen's Blair Brown as Gertrude, John Benjamin Hickey as Horatio, and Denis O'Hare as Osric.

An actor as busy as the airport of the same name, O'Hare, before he bounds to the Ahmanson in L.A. to play Og the leprechaun in the Broadway-bound revival of Finian's Rainbow, will spend June and July at the Bay Street in Sag Harbor, playing hubby to Kate Burton's Hedda Gabler. Harris Yulin, the prize of The Price, may join them. This is the Jon Robin Baitz adaptation that Annette Benning did last year at the Ahmanson, and it will be directed by Nicholas Martin.

Over at the Guthrie in Minneapolis, meanwhile, another Hedda will rear when David Esbjornson, fresh from his Broadway debut staging of Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, directs the Ibsen play for an August and September run--starring Laila Robins, he hopes, since she played such a wonderful Miss Alma for him there last year. Robins' latest role--that of Sarah May Pratt's mom in the Search for Paradise movie--she owes to the abrupt exit of Blythe Danner, which is also how Frances Conroy fell into her Tony-worthy performance in The Ride Down Mt. Morgan. Danner won her Tony for Butterflies Are Free over co-star Eileen Heckart's fourth and final bid for that award. Now Heckart, 81, is officially wrapping up her theatrical career with a terrific but Tony-ineligible performance in the Off-Broadway play The Waverly Gallery--but a movement is currently afoot to bestow upon her an honorary Tony. (P.S.: Danner didn't get the movie of Butterflies Are Free, but Heckart did--and the Oscar.)


At the Sardi's party following the opening of Rose, playwright Martin Sherman told me he has four screenplays on the griddle right now, two to be directed by Franco Zeffirelli--one called Florentines, about 17th century Florence, and the other on Maria Callas. "That's an exclusive," Sherman says of the latter work, "nobody knows it." Certainly nobody could do film justice to Callas better than her friend Zeffirelli. The question, however, is what might this project do to the film version of Terrence McNally's Tony-winning Master Class. (Which Faye Dunaway wants to film in the worst--er, best way--with Al Pacino as Ari.) Zeffirelli, meanwhile, lent a certain international luster to Rose's Broadway launching, but Sherman also had another very special guest present: David Marshall Grant, who debuted on Broadway--in the nude--in the playwright's Bent 20 years ago. The actor turned playwright last year with Snakebit; next week, Manhattan Theatre Club puts into rehearsal Grant's second opus, Current Events, with Jon Tenney, Barbara Barrie, Christine Ebersole, and John Gallagher, Jr. The latter originated his role last summer when the play was done at Vassar's New York Stage & Theatre Workshop. David Petrarca (Fuddy Meers, Marvin's Room) will direct.


Oscar winner Patricia Neal made certain she was in that crowd that welcomed Eartha Kitt triumphantly back to Broadway in The Wild Party. The two became pals on a tour to Tahiti--a holiday that ended badly when Kitt was detained at Customs because she couldn't produce her passport. Neal felt terrible about that--and worse a few months later when she was cleaning out her purse and unearthed Kitt's missing passport. How it got there she still doesn't know. She didn't dare call Kitt, so she called the Theater Guild and had them return the passport to her. In time, Neal fessed up, and Kitt responded with roars of laughter. They've been fast friends ever since.


It's impossible to go to work in and not feel good about yourself. Emblazoned in bright yellow letters on the stage door of the Martin Beck is the Joan Hamburg quote: "Every Performer in This Extraordinary Cast Is Magical." Also magical is the fact that Kiss Me, Kate has received eight Outer Critics Circle nominations, Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Actor in a Musical (Brian Stokes Mitchell), Actress in a Musical (Marin Mazzie), Featured Actor in a Musical (Michael Berresse), Director of a Musical (Michael Blakemore), Choreography (Kathleen Marshall), Scenic Design (Robin Wagner), and Costume Design (Martin Pakledinaz).


When Uta Hagen, Jonathan Pryce, and Mia Farrow reprise their one-performance-only fundraising run-through of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Peter Gallagher will join them, replacing Matthew Broderick, who's otherwise engaged on Broadway in
. There's talk of a London reprise of the reading too...

...George Hearn has replaced Bryn Terfel in the New York Philharmonics concert version of Sweeney Todd. This cast change means DGG won't record the performances...

...Keith Reddin has adapted Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid into The Perpetual Patient for the All Seasons Theatre Group. The gifted Joe Grifasi is directing (and trying to talk himself into the title role)...

...Bound for Williamstown this summer: Eric Stoltz, who will Light Up the Sky for director Christopher Ashley, and Mandy Siegfried, who will play The Girl in The Hot L Baltimore for director Joe Mantello...

...Harriet Harris, of Jeffrey and Frasier fame, will be girl Friday for Nathan Lane's Sheridan Whiteside in the upcoming star-dotted revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner, which Jerry Zaks is directing for Roundabout this summer...

...Brian d'Arcy James, late of The Wild Party at Manhattan Theatre Club, will be the prototype of all sleazeball publicists, Sidney Falco, in the summer workshop of the Marvin Hamlisch-Craig Carnelia-John Guare musical Sweet Smell of Success. Nicholas Hytner will direct it before heading back to London...

...Elizabeth Marvel, who was such a marvelous Blanche DuBois in the New York Theatre Workshop revival of A Streetcar Named Desire last year, returns to the scene of that triumph on May 4 as Guare's Lydie Breeze...

..."Come, boys/Let's all be gay, boys"--one of the great camp lyrics of all time--has been rewritten for Paper Mill Playhouse's reprise of The Student Prince, but it'll appear in its original state for Gay & Lesbian Night there...

...About all that remains of the original Jekyll & Hyde cast the best friend (George Merritt) and the future father-in-law (Barrie Ingham) and their performances remain miraculously fresh. "When you've been through seven Jekylls, it keeps you fresh," says Merritt. "Each of them has his own, er, 'challenges.'" Merritt is holding out hope they'll rewrite the title role so he can do the hair-switch part. "I want to do it in dredlocks," he says.

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