Rush to Judgment
HEATHER RANDALL will take on the ghost of JUDY GARLAND in the National Actors Theater's Judgment at Nuremberg.
A MANN FOR ALL REASONS
The judges and the judged are beginning to assemble for Judgment at Nuremberg, which the National Actors Theater will render March 26 on Broadway (reportedly at the Longacre). NAT commissioned Abby Mann to expand his 1959 teleplay and 1961 screenplay for the stage, and John Tillinger will put the results into rehearsal beginning January 18.
Maximilian Schell--who won an Academy Award 40 years ago for his performance in the movie version of Judgment as the fiery Nazi defense attorney, the part he had originated on TV--has "graduated" to the role of the principal Nazi accused of war crimes. The star-making role he vacates will be taken over by Michael Hayden of Carousel and Cabaret fame. George Grizzard, in his first Broadway appearance since winning the Tony for A Delicate Balance, has inherited Spencer Tracy's role of the American judge who presides over the Nuremberg trials.
Heather Randall, wife of NAT founder Tony Randall, has been assigned the plum part of Irene Hoffman, the devastated German woman who suffers a courtroom breakdown, played in the film by an Oscar-nominated Judy Garland. Others cast: Susan Kellerman and veteran Joseph Wiseman.
SIÂN, COME BACK, SIÂN!
Siân Phillips, who declined the part of Solange ("Ah, Paris!") in the forthcoming Follies, was hoping that her recent Tony-nominated turn as Marlene would win her the Dietrich role in Nuremberg (see above). But no; the producers opted to go with Marthe Keller, who has a more distant association with Dietrich (she played a young Marlene in a film which Dietrich turned down, Billy Wilder's 1978 Fedora).
A third show Phillips won't be doing is The Vagina Monologues. She was to begin this week but cancelled because, happily, Queen Elizabeth is making her a Commander of the British Empire (C.B.E.) on November 28. She may get another shot at the Monologues in January.
SOLVING FOR X
Four knowns will start rehearsing Ten Unknowns the day after Christmas: Donald Sutherland, Julianna Margulies, Justin Kirk, and Denis O'Hare. The new Jon Robin Baitz play, directed by Dan Sullivan, will follow Wendy Wasserstein's already sold-out Old Money into the Mitzi Newhouse. Sutherland plays an artist whose fame comes late in life; Jason Robards was to have filled the role, but his health forced him to relinquish it.
TROTTING OUT FOXY AGAIN
Of all his works (which include the Oscar-winning scripts of Woman of the Year and M*A*S*H), Ring Lardner, Jr. was said to be proudest of Foxy, the short-lived 1964 Broadway musical comedy he wrote with fellow blacklisted screenwriter Ian McLellan Hunter, loosely based on Volpone. It was the only one of Lardner's works that was read at his recent memorial service: Josh Mostel, whose father Zero was a pal of Lardner's, did the title role originated by Bert Lahr and his sidekicks were played by the sons of the authors, Jim Lardner and Tim Hunter.
When he died on Halloween at the age of 85--the last survivor of the blacklisted "Hollywood Ten"--Lardner was aware his that beloved Foxy was set for an encore reading by Musicals Tonight! and would at last be recorded by Original Cast Records; all that has survived from the Broadway production are a demo tape made by the show's lyricist, Johnny Mercer and a pirated recording of a live performance made sometime during the show's two-month run. The Musicals Tonight! presentation, set for December 5-17 at the 14th Street Y, will have Rudy Roberson in the title role and Jessica Frankel as the "Miss Kitty" figure, along with Rob Lorey, David Sabella, Natasha Harper, Andrew Gitcy, and George Pellegrino.
The original show contained 15 songs; a dozen more were discarded en route to Broadway. Of these 12, three will be reinstated for the reading: "Respectability," sung by Foxy and the sidekicks; "The Letter of the Law," a patter song describing how a jury is picked in the Klondike; and a third number in which the female leads imagine what married life is like.
"We had an embarrassment of riches," admits Musicals Tonight! impresario Mel Miller. "The University of Georgia sent us Mercer material, and the University of Montana sent stuff by the composer, Robert Emmett Dolan. Since there was no cast recording, no one has heard any of these songs. There'll be about 15 or 16, not counting reprises."
FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL
Add two Tony nominees to the cast of 28 accumulating for the Bells Are Ringing revival: David Garrison and Beth Fowler. Faith Prince and (as I told you exclusively two weeks ago) Marc Kudisch will star in this welcome reprise of the 1956 Jule Styne-Betty Comden-Adolph Green musical, which director Tina Landau and choreographer Jeff Calhoun will put into rehearsal on January 2 for an April 22 opening at the Plymouth
It appears that the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., will be a happening place after the turn of the year. Artistic director David Saint, who helmed the Anne Meara plays After Play and Down the Garden Paths, will direct the latest A.R. Gurney Jr. opus, Human Events (you know, as in "When in the course of...") and Arthur Laurents will stage his own Venezia, starring Chita Rivera. The latter is "a play with music" featuring two songs by Andrew Lippa, who composed The Wild Party for Manhattan Theater Club. If all goes well, both shows should be Off-Broadway before the end of 2001.
No grass is growing under the feet of Arthur Kopit, either; the playwright is currently spinning three projects. First of all, he's finishing up a screenplay rendering of his most recent play, Y2K, retitled Because He Can for film. "It has to go beyond where the play went to," says the author, "so I've had to reconceive it, basically start from the middle and go to the end, and then work backwards." He's also readying a trio of 10-minute plays under the umbrella title Chad Curtis, Lost Again for the Humana Festival in Louisville. And, most exciting (and most distant) of all, Kopit's working on a new musical with his Nine collaborator, composer Maury Yeston. It's an original called Tom Swift and the Secrets of the Universe.