WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE HARRIS
Ed Harris in Wrecks
(© Michal Daniel)
Ed Harris in Wrecks
(© Michal Daniel)
Neil LaBute's new work Wrecks may technically be a solo piece, but star Ed Harris says the audience at the Public's Anspacher Theater -- a three-quarter space which has no proscenium stage -- is definitely part of the action. "There's this one moment when I ask if it's okay to smoke another cigarette," says Harris, whose character Ed Carr is speaking at his wife's wake. "And one night, this lady in the front row, says to me, 'I wish you wouldn't.' It's been very different for me than when I did the show in Ireland last year, where there was a proscenium. The audience is not just on top of me; they can see each other, and it can be a little inhibiting for them. Some nights, you can tell that one half of the audience wants to laugh at something and the rest don't, and that changes their reaction. But at least so far, no one's walked out like these two old ladies did in Ireland one night when the show's 'twist' was revealed."

Being at the Anspacher has led Harris to try a different way of performing. "I actually did the first couple of previews without my contact lenses, because I thought not being able to focus on the audience might help me. But it's better if I can really see people; it makes the show much more intimate," he says. "On a recent Saturday night, Harris had two particularly special people in the audience: his wife, actress Amy Madigan and their 13-year-old daughter, Lily, who flew in from California. "It was the first time Lily ever saw me act on stage, and she was very excited and very emotional," says Harris.

His reluctance to spend too much time away from his family is the reason that Wrecks marks Harris' first New York stage appearance in a decade. "I didn't know Neil, but he sent me this script and I really liked it. And the first run was just two weeks in Ireland, and I like Ireland," he says. "But it's been nice coming back to the piece after a year, since I've been able to go a little deeper and feel more grounded. It's been a nice way to reintroduce myself to the stage. I would love to do something with Amy down the road -- we did a reading of this one-act musical last spring, which was a fun little piece -- and I hope to be able to work with Sam Shepard [who wrote Harris' breakthrough play, Fool for Love again. I had also talked about doing The Night of the Iguana with [producer] Bill Kenwright, but that didn't work out. But I promise it won't be another 10 years before I do another play."


Rita Gardner and Kevin Cahoon in The Wedding Singer
(© Joan Marcus)
Rita Gardner and Kevin Cahoon
in The Wedding Singer
(© Joan Marcus)
TRIPLE THREAT
Performing eight shows a week on Broadway would be enough for many performers, but Kevin Cahoon, who plays George in The Wedding Singer, is expanding his horizons. On October 15, he'll appear with his band Ghetto Cowboy at Joe's Pub to perform songs from their recently released CD Doll. "It will be a theatrical experience, with kind of an outlandish glam-rock feel to the show," says Cahoon. "I am thrilled with the album; it's beyond what I imagined. And I have to say songwriting came naturally to me, maybe, because I have a mission: to speak to anyone who is an outsider or doesn't feel like they fit in."

Speaking of fitting in, Cahoon says he's really enjoying working with Constantine Maroulis, who's playing the role of George's bandmate Sammy for a two-month stint. "He's done a great job. I'm completely impressed with him," he says. "There's a big physical difference between us -- he's so much taller than me -- and that adds a lot of humor that wasn't there before. Plus his presence is giving a little boost to the box office, and that's great, because no one wants to play to a small audience. But I have to say, we're getting a lot of support; young kids love the show and so do a lot of older people, who find it to be this charming love story."

Meanwhile, Cahoon can be seen on the small screen as part of the ensemble cast of ABC's new series Six Degrees. "My character Ross Rothman works for the biggest interior design firm in New York. He's this guy with a complete sense of entitlement who will do anything he can to promote himself, and that's fun for me," Cahoon says. "Plus, I get to work mostly with Hope Davis, who plays my assistant, and that's about as good as it gets. You know, I've never done pilot season, but I think I'm ready. My first dream was coming to New York and being in a Broadway show, and that's become a reality. Now, I wouldn't say no to doing a TV series full-time."


HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE

Whoopi Goldberg
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
Whoopi Goldberg
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
New York City Opera star Myrna Paris will make a special appearance in Christopher Kennedy's solo play Pulling Strings, October 13 and 15 at New York's St. Stephen's Church; Christopher McDonald will return to the Broadway production of Chicago as Billy Flynn, October 15-November 19; cast members from Broadway's The Lion King will come together for the benefit Artists for Eco-Access on October 16 at the Duke on 42nd Street; former Oz star George Morfogen will be part of the Mint Theater's one-night-only performance of The Voysey Inheritance on October 23; one-time All My Children star James Kiberd will star in the Hudson Stage production of Manhattan Casanova, October 27-November 11.

Looking ahead, David Colbert and Petra DeLuca will reunite for a benefit performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Players Theater on October 30; Tony Award winner Brent Carver and Jeffrey Kuhn will co-star in the two-person tuner The Story of My Life at Toronto's CanStage, October 30-December 9; the one-and-only Whoopi Goldberg will play Stamford's Palace Theatre on November 3; Larry Gatlin, Kathy Brier, Deven May, Erich Bergen, and Leslie Kritzer will be the guest performers for a special edition of Jamie deRoy & Friends, November 4 at NYC's Thalia Theatre; the handsome and talented Dominic West will take over the lead role of Jan in the London production of Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll on November 14; Emmy Award-winning comedian Jon Stewart will participate in a special benefit for Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse on November 17.


Cheryl Stern, Pamela Myers, Teri Ralston
and Joy Franz in Hats!
(© Jason Woodruff)
Cheryl Stern, Pamela Myers, Teri Ralston
and Joy Franz in Hats!
(© Jason Woodruff)
HANG ONTO YOUR HATS
Thirty-six years after they first shared the stage in the Broadway production of Company, Pamela Myers and Teri Ralston are on the boards together again in the world premiere of Hats! at the New Denver Civic Theatre, playing members of the Red Hat Society, a national organization of colorfully-dressed 50+ women. "We did a workshop in New York and there were some actual Red Hat ladies there, and they were so enthusiastic, it was almost scary," laughs Ralston. "They mobbed us in the lobby, and one of them said 'you're like rock stars to us,'" adds Myers.

The pair, who co-starred in a musical revue called Let Me Sing and I'm Happy in the early 1990s and do a lot of benefits together, weren't aware they were both auditioning for the show; in fact, they auditioned for the same role (which eventually went to Myers). Now, they're happily part of a seven person, all-female ensemble. "I'm amazed everyone's getting along so well; there are a lot of hormones on that stage," says Ralston. "But in some ways, it's easier -- because when there are men around, there's often a lot of competition for their attention. "

Both women also credit their director Lynne Taylor-Corbett, whom Ralston calls "the most patient woman ever," with making the show a fun experience. Says Myers: "There's a lot of dancing in this show, and I'm sure Lynne just can't believe how different we all are trying to do the exact same thing. Sometimes, it's just hysterical. We don't have the discipline in our bodies that dancers have. Let's just say, we could never be in the Rockettes."


BRIDAL PATHS
What becomes a Tony Award-winning actress the most? Apparently, it's a wedding ring. Just weeks after The Drowsy Chaperone star Sutton Foster made an honest man out of Spamalot's Christian Borle, former Hairspray star Marissa Jaret Winokur has tied the knot with Judah Miller. Meanwhile, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie's Cynthia Nixon's girlfriend Christine Marinoni was all smiles at the show's opening earlier this week, as were audience members Joan Rivers, Claudia Shear, and Florencia Lozano.