PACINO REMEMBERS PAPA
Three things Al Pacino is expecting in January: twins (via Beverly D'Angelo) and induction into the Theater Hall of Fame. And, come summer, he plans to have the Oedipus he and Estelle Parsons have been working on for seven months at the Actors Studio at last airborne and before the public at a venue to be announced. "Not a theater, a venue," cautions co-director Parsons. "An empty space we could make our own." Evidently, "airborne" is an appropriate word: The space they seem to be zeroing in on is the Daryl Roth Theater, where the De La Guarda troupe is (literally) hanging out. Two Oedipus workshops have already taken place there with the likes of Pacino, Mary Beth Hurt, Edward Herrmann, Dianne Wiest, B.D. Wong, and David Strathairn.
Parsons, who's using the Texas accent that won her an Oscar (Bonnie and Clyde) for the Horton Foote play at the Signature Theater Company, The Last of the Thorntons, has racked up three workshops of another property: Tom Jones and Billy Goldenberg's musical version of Harold and Maude. (Apparently, Maude is a role for which only Oscar-winners need apply: Ruth Gordon originated it in the movie, and Janet Gaynor did it in the play.)
By the way, The Last of the Thorntons is not the last of the Footes: Horton's latest, called The Carpetbagger's Children and commissioned by Houston's Alley Theater, will lift off there in April starring daughter Hallie Foote and Dana Ivey. It's a three-sisters affair.
LONERGAN ON AGAIN
You'd think all those film-festival prizes would turn a fella's head, but no. Kenneth Lonergan, who has collected a handful of honors for writing and directing one of the best movies of the year, You Can Count on Me, has reverted to his stage roots and will present a new play at Playwrights Horizons in February. Lobby Hero will reunite him with actor Mark Ruffalo and director Mark Brokaw, the two Marks who made a right with his previous opus, This Is Our Youth. Ruffalo won Obie and Drama Desk Awards for his breakout performance in that play, and now he stands a good shot at an Oscar nomination for You Can Count on Me. Rehearsals will begin in late January. Tate Donovan co-stars.
Fresh from the fascinatingly fey Tiny Alice, director Mark Lamos will paddle Lee Blessing's Thief River through its maiden voyage at the Signature Theater Company, beginning May 13. Six actors will play a gay couple through the years, from 1950 to 2005....Byron Jennings, a sublime Beverly in the recent Man Who Came to Dinner, and Paul Hecht, a survivor of the abysmal Big Potato, will join Richard Easton and Robert Sean Leonard for The Invention of Love at the Lyceum in March. This Lincoln Center production, which Jack O'Brien will direct, is the third U.S. mounting accorded Tom Stoppard's play about scholar A.E. Housman and unrequited love. A previous staging, done last year at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, recently swept the awards cupboard clean down there....Lea DeLaria, so egregiously overlooked by the Tony Awards for her superb work in On the Town, may confound Tony nominators this year. You see, she plays two men in The Rocky Horror Show. Would that be Best Featured Actress or Best Featured Actor?
BACK TO SQUARE ONES
Now that Seussical has settled (somewhat) on Broadway, lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty are rekindling a project that they have been kicking around for years with book writer John Weidman (Contact). It's called Glorious Ones, based on a novel of the same title about a band of actors in Italy of the early 16th century....Another hearty troupe of thespians--these of Restoration vintage--recently visited the Philadelphia Theater Company in Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Jeffrey Hatcher's play about a renowned actor of female roles in that era. Just before the run ended, Hatcher came up with a new draft of the play; so director Walter Bobbie reassembled the cast (Stephen Skybell, Laura Dean, Stephen DeRosa, et al.) to take it from the top again in a new reading at Manhattan Theater Club. "I think the play has a future," says Bobbie, "but what that future is, we don't know right now."
That two-hatted media-mixer, director-choreographer Rob Marshall, is blissfully sitting atop two bustling projects these days. There will be another reading next month of the Broadway show he's planning for next season, the Scott Wittman-Marc Shaiman-Mark O'Donnell musicalization of John Waters' 1988 cult-flick, Hairspray, starring (in all probability) Harvey Fierstein in the Divine role and American Beauty's Marissa Jaret Winokur in the Ricki Lake role. But, before that hits the Broadway boards, Marshall will be going Hollywood via Chicago: He's set to direct and choreograph the ridiculously overdue movie version of Kander & Ebb's hip, hit tuner about the wild 'n' wooly Windy City. The script will be by Bill Condon, who got an Oscar for Gods and Monsters.
Edward Albee is certainly in season these days. Among those attending the opening of his Tiny Alice resurrection at Second Stage was David Esbjornson--who, as a director, will deliver a double dose of Albee to the theater masses in January. Up at the Guthrie in Minneapolis, he's reviving Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Carrie Preston, who first drew attention here as Patrick Stewart's daughter in The Tempest, will be Honey to Stewart's George; Mercedes Ruehl will be Martha the mouth, and Bill McCallum will occupy the fourth corner of those overlapping triangles. It goes into rehearsal at the end of January in New York, and who knows? If the shouting can be heard from Minnesota, it might rate a stop here. But closer at hand is The Play About the Baby, which Esbjornson will deliver Off-Broadway in mid-January with Brian Murphy and Marian Seldes. Just announced in the roles of the play's younger couple are David Burtka and Kathleen Early.