Mechanic gets pre-Broadway production of 'Barrymore'

October 12, 1994|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,Sun Theater Critic

"Barrymore," a pre-Broadway production starring Christopher Plummer as the legendary actor, will be presented at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre from March 21 to April 9, 1995, general manager Steve Goldstein announced.

Written by William Luce, author of "The Belle of Amherst," "Barrymore" is the final offering to be announced in the seven-show Baltimore Broadway Series.

"I've been trying to get this show since last March, since it was first offered," said Goldstein. The play originally was to star John Lithgow, he continued, but "when they came back and presented it with Plummer, I said, 'Absolutely!' "

Remarking on Plummer's resemblance to the late actor, Goldstein added, "I certainly think he has a demeanor about him and a flair about him that's very much like Barrymore."

Luce's script, which also includes the minor character of a prompter, takes place in the last year of John Barrymore's life, when he hopes to resurrect his career by returning to Broadway in his former triumphant starring role in "Richard III." "Barrymore" will be directed by David Jones, who directed Plummer on Broadway last season in Harold Pinter's "No Man's Land."

Winner of a 1974 Tony Award for his performance in the musical "Cyrano," Plummer appeared at the Mechanic in 1988 in the title role in "Macbeth" and in 1981, opposite James Earl Jones, in "Othello." He has made more than 50 movies, including "The Sound of Music" and "The Man Who Would Be King."

"Barrymore," which is scheduled to open on Broadway in April, will also play tryout engagements in Boston and Pittsburgh. Its scheduling at the Mechanic has necessitated a slight shift in the dates for the show that follows it. "Flowers and Photos," also a Broadway tryout, will now be presented April 11-30, 1995.

Goldstein also announced that Howard Hesseman will play the lead in Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" (Feb. 28-March 19, 1995). Hesseman starred in three TV series, including "WKRP in Cincinnati."

In "Laughter on the 23rd Floor," Hesseman will portray Max Prince, the Sid Caesar-like host of a live 1950s television variety show. "He really should be terrific in the role," Goldstein said, "It's that manic, over-the-top character that Hesseman should be perfect for."

Baltimore Broadway Series subscriptions are still available. For ticket information, call (410) 625-1400.

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