MORE TIME, MACK?
"Time Heals Everything," but it looks as if a little more time will be required for the promised Broadway revival of Mack & Mabel, the Jerry Herman musical biography of Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand. It was supposed to happen last season, then it was bumped to this season--and now prospects are so bleak that cast members are swimming to safer, sturdier vehicles. Douglas Sills, for one, has fled to Assassins (specifically: John Wilkes Booth). No one will officially admit it yet, but the show is starting to look like a no-show...Major Barbara's current beau, Denis O'Hare, has signed up for another of the Assassins (probably Charles Guiteau), leaving the Broadway fate of Jon Robin Baitz's Ten Unknowns even more unknown than it was when it closed at Lincoln Center. This much is known: Donald Sutherland and Julianna Margulies won't be back for a second helping. That leaves only Justin Kirk of the original cast still rarin' to go.
NOISES ON, OR OFF?
The money isn't there by a darn sight, but the intent sure is. Offers have gone out to Tony winners new (Richard Easton) and old (Patti LuPone and Blair Brown) as well as to Peter Gallagher, Edward Hibbert, and Katie Finneran to do the Broadway revival of Michael Frayn's fracturously funny Noises Off, a knockabout physical farce light years removed from Frayn's Tony-winning think piece, Copenhagen. If ever a comedy merited combat pay, it would be this dizzy depiction of a fifth-rate British theater troupe trying to get through a feeble sex farce called Nothing On. The original, 1983 Broadway cast--Brian Murray, Dorothy Loudon, Deborah Rush, the late Douglas Seale, Victor Garber, Linda Thorson, Paxton Whitehead, Amy Wright, et al.--ran up an impressive collection of strains and bruises, so the new company may not want to risk so much aggressive fun for such abysmal pay. We'll see. Director Jeremy Sams is scheduled to repeat his Royal National Theater staging of Noises Off which is currently occupying Lynn Redgrave and Stephen Mangan. The planned site for the stateside slapstick is the Brooks Atkinson--which of course, was the home of the original. Previews are to start September 25, with a Broadway opening set for October.
HERE A LEAR, THERE A LEAR
Christopher Plummer is a good reason to summer at the Stratford Festival next year: The 73-year-old actor will finally be getting around to King Lear--helmed by Jonathan Miller no less....Tim Roth, who may be seen in the less-than-sparkling Planet of the Apes, is about to commit a new King Lear to film. He's not forthcoming about who will play the title role, but it definitely won't be Roth; he insists he'll direct only. The screen adaptation--pauses and all--will be by Harold Pinter....Lincoln Center's salute to Pinter was an enforced sell-out by "virtue" of too few performances in too small spaces. Even the press was shortchanged, to give an idea how "few" and how "small." Surely, some practical planning beforehand could have alleviated the problem. Also, the prints that accompanied the Pinter-on-film portion of the program at the Walter Reade Theater were in poor condition; the gorgeous Go-Between was so washed out that it looked as if it were photographed in sepia tone. Theater-wise, the offerings were a mixed bag, as is frequently the case with Pinter. The highlight was the Gate Theater revival of The Homecoming with Ian Holm (who played the Number One Son in the 1964 original) as the pissed-off patriarch and Skylight's Lia Williams vamping her sultry way through the all-male domestic front. Lindsay Duncan had a standout "stunt evening," going from drab (The Room) to dazzling (the genuinely funny Celebration), while Penelope Wilton and Tony winner Brid Brennan did well by an Awakenings-inspired piece, A Kind of Alaska. Pinter himself brought up the rear, enacting the unactable One for the Road.
GATHERING MOSS AND MARTINS; SIGNING A TV STAR
Clark Middleton has been added to the cast of The Late Henry Moss, which already includes Ethan Hawke, Arliss Howard, and Sheila Tousey. The Sam Shepard play, which premiered at San Francisco's Theater on the Square last November with Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, and Woody Harrelson, will start previewing here September 4 at the Signature Theater Company under the direction of Joseph Chaikin, and will open September 23....Director Nicholas Martin and Tony winner Andrea Martin, who made a terrific Matchmaker a few seasons back at the Williamstown Theater Festival, will be Together Again! soon, doing Betty's Summer Vacation at Boston's Huntington Theater Company. Andrea will have the role that Kristine Nielsen played so hysterically well when the Christopher Durang comedy debuted at Playwrights Horizons. Nielsen is otherwise engaged at Manhattan Theater Club in a new absurdist comedy from the author of Fuddy Meers, David Lindsay-Abaire. Called Wonder of the World, it stars Sarah Jessica Parker of the TV phenomenon Sex and the City and Fuddy Meers' Drama Desk Award winner Marylouise Burke. The director is Christopher Ashley, who is simultaneously directing Paul Rudnick's Rude Entertainment for the Drama Dept., with Peter Bartlett, Harriet Harris, and Neal Huff.
Speaking of A Kind of Alaska, that literally is where John Guare had to go to be saluted last month--Valdez, Alaska. Patricia Neal, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Warren Powell, and Mary Louise Wilson participated in the retrospective tribute "The Man Behind the Typewriter," which writer-director Joel Vig pulled together from various Guare plays and musicals. Guare was flanked by fellow playwrights Edward Albee and August Wilson and director Lloyd Richards....Guare seems to be everywhere these days. He was just at Lincoln Center with Chaucer in Rome. Next, he'll have A Few Stout Individuals premiering at the Signature Theater Company. And, of course, he's doing the book for the Marvin Hamlisch musical Sweet Smell of Success, which director Nicholas Hytner will launch in December at Chicago's Shubert Theater; John Lithgow and Brian d'Arcy James star in the unsavory roles of the columnist and publicist made famous in the movie by Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. The sets for Sweet Smell will be by Bob Crowley, who'll get right on the case now that Mike Nichols' star-studded production of The Seagull, which also features Crowley's work, is up and running in Central Park.