New team revives 'Clowns'

June 16, 1996|By Peter Marks | Peter Marks,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Lesser mortals might have thrown in the towel, but not the hearty folks at New York's Roundabout Theater. Battered by a series of personnel disasters in its latest show, "A Thousand Clowns," the subscription theater still managed to put together a cast and a creative team. On Wednesday, 15 days late, the curtain went up on the revival of the Herb Gardner play. According to some audience members, the first preview came off without a hitch.

"It's been a wild few weeks," said Todd Haimes, the Roundabout's artistic director.

The problems began last month, after Gardner attended a rehearsal and was displeased with what he saw, according to people involved with the production. The director, Gene Saks, and the lead actor, Robert Klein, were soon dismissed. Then last week Jane Adams, who won a Tony in 1994 for her performance in "An Inspector Calls," abruptly quit. Saks and Klein declined comment. Adams could not be reached.

Judd Hirsch -- who appeared in Gardner's "I'm Not Rappaport" and "Conversations With My Father" -- and Scott Ellis were brought in to replace Klein and Saks. Last week, Marin Hinkle, late of "Sabina" at Primary Stages, was hired to replace Adams -- and went on with five days' rehearsal. "It's funny how fast you can work when you have to," Ellis said.

Casting 'Skylight' Over Here

Michael Gambon not an international star?

Gambon, one of the most accomplished British stage actors of his generation (and best known to audiences here as the star of "The Singing Detective" on PBS), is the subject of one of those trans-Atlantic actors' union disputes, which is disrupting plans for his New York debut this fall in David Hare's "Skylight."

Actors' Equity has objected to granting Gambon star status, a designation that permits actors to work on either side of the Atlantic. Robert Fox, the producer of "Skylight," said talks were at a delicate stage. "I think to question whether Michael Gambon is an international star is a little eccentric," he said. "It's like saying Laurence Olivier was not a star."

Pub Date: 6/16/96

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