Director saw thesp's perf in West End
LONDON — Jessica Lange may well be “so happy … for a time” on Broadway next spring if she joins the Robert Falls-directed “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” that is shaping up to be the starriest revival Broadway has seen in an age. (Mike Nichols’ imminent, star-packed Central Park go-round of “The Seagull” has no Broadway plans so far.)
“I thought she was quite remarkable,” Falls said of Lange’s West End Mary Tyrone, which the director caught in its final weeks at the Lyric Theater prior to the production’s skedded closing March 3.
Falls added, “I told her I’d love it if she would consider playing it” again in his revival, which is primed to start a monthlong (or thereabouts) Chicago run in January on the Goodman mainstage before transferring to Broadway.
Robin Phillips’ West End staging marked Falls’ first live experience of O’Neill’s crowning work. He saw the Katharine Hepburn film and both the Laurence Olivier and Jack Lemmon productions on TV and video, respectively.
Whereas Lange was generally considered the crowning glory of producer Bill Kenwright’s London venture (she was the only cast member to get an Olivier nom), Falls’ staging, backed by David Richenthal, is aiming high across the board. His Tyrone Sr. will be Brian Dennehy, marking the fifth collaboration over the past 18 years between the Tony-winning actor-director team behind Broadway’s recent “Death of a Salesman.”
In contention to play the two sons are Philip Seymour Hoffman and Billy Crudup — “probably the two hottest actors in the country right now,” said Falls.
Lange is no stranger to rethinking the same role for different directors. She played Blanche DuBois on Broadway for Gregory Mosher and 4-1/2 years later in London for Peter Hall, with a TV version in between.
“She’ll need to develop a new family,” acknowledged Falls, “which is a difficult thing to do.” On the other hand, the director added, Mary Tyrone “is the one role that exists almost independently of the play. She’s the wild emotional center of the piece that the men have to respond to.”
Judi Dench was an early prospect for Falls’ production, having befriended Dennehy when she appeared on Broadway in “Amy’s View.”
As for Lange, the two-time Oscar-winner was sounding ready for a long rest, speaking the day before her closing performance during a lunch for the London branch of the international org Women in Film.
“I’m tired; I want to go home,” said Lange, who was on a plane back to Minnesota within 24 hours of her final descent down the Tyrone staircase.
And yet, she maintained, “I’m not through with Mary yet.”