Broadway vets in line for ‘Follies’

18-week run begins in March

LONDON — Broadway’s “Follies” cast is firming up.

Judith Ivey, Gregory Harrison and Treat Williams are on board to play three of the four principals, English director Matthew Warchus has told Daily Variety.

The fourth role– elegantly bitter Manhattan sophisticate Phyllis — has yet to be cast. Sigourney Weaver will not likely fill the part, for which she had been mentioned.

The eagerly awaited Roundabout Theater Co. revival hits Broadway’s Belasco Theater for previews beginning March 6 in what has been announced as an 18-week run.

Also in the cast are Betty Garrett, Polly Bergen and Carol Woods.

Two-time Tony winner Ivey will make an unexpected musical foray as Sally Durant Plummer, the part originated in 1971 by Dorothy Collins. Can Ivey sing? “Like a dream,” reported Warchus.

Williams will return to the New York stage to play Sally’s despairing husband, Buddy. Two seasons ago, he appeared at the Manhattan Theater Club in the musical “Captains Courageous.” No stranger to musicals, the actor replaced Kevin Kline in 1981 as the Pirate King in Broadway’s long-running “The Pirates of Penzance,” did a stint in the original “Grease” and starred in Milos Forman’s film “Hair.”

Return to Broadway

Harrison inherits John McMartin’s original part as Ben Stone, one of the erstwhile stage door johnnies reflecting on their lives at a reunion of the former showgirls whom the men — perhaps wrongly — married. The actor last starred on Broadway in 1997 in the short-lived “Steel Pier.”

Octogenarian Garrett, as Hattie, will get to deliver the show-stopping “Broadway Baby.” Garrett’s Broadway credits date back at least as far as the Harold Rome musical “Call Me Mister” in 1946. Bergen has been handed the role of Carlotta, purveyor of the show’s anthemic “I’m Still Here.”

Carol Woods, the American whose London credits include “Blues in the Night” and a memorable Ma Rainey in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” at the National Theater, will play Stella, who leads the Weismann Girls in “Who’s That Woman?”

Warchus said he saw the 1987 Cameron Mackintosh-Mike Ockrent West End staging of “Follies” four times. More recently, he’s been keeping up on his Sondheim and attended the “Sweeney Todd” gala at Avery Fisher Hall in New York in May. In June, he was a Tony nominee for the Broadway remounting of “True West,” with a previous Tony nod behind him for directing Yasmina Reza’s “Art.”

‘Unexpected’ opening

Prior to a Broadway revival which is potentially this New York season’s hottest, Warchus is keeping busy in more usual terrain — the straight play. Next month sees the Off Broadway bow at the Promenade, under Warchus’ direction, of Reza’s “The Unexpected Man,” opening Oct. 24; Eileen Atkins and Alan Bates star in a play first staged by the director in London — with Michael Gambon originating Bates’ role — 2-1/2 years ago.

In December, Warchus directs Reza’s newest, “Life x 3,” at the National Theater’s Lyttelton auditorium. Imelda Staunton, Mark Rylance and possibly Harriet Walter head the cast.

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