It was 18 months ago that Jeffrey Richards called Gore Vidal to discuss an election-year Broadway revival of “The Best Man.” At Sunday’s opening for that production, the producer recalled his inspiration for the phone call.
“When I was growing up, I saw a play on Broadway called ‘Too True to Be Good’ and it had eight stars above the title: Cyril Ritchard, Cedric Hardwicke, Lillian Gish, Ray Middleton, Eileen Heckart, Glynis Johns, Robert Preston and David Wayne. And I said to Gore, ‘I want to do that for ‘The Best Man,’ and he said go ahead and do it. It was kind of like a challenge,” Richards added. “So now we have eight wonderful names above the title,” including James Earl Jones, John Larroquette, Eric McCormack, Angela Lansbury and Candice Bergen.
The starry audience at the Schoenfeld Theater had their faves in the cast: Judith Light (“Eric McCormack is a friend”), Marlo Thomas (“I’m a friend of Candy’s”), Ellen Burstyn (“It’s great to see Gore Vidal back on Broadway”). Joan Rivers joked that she’d vote for Lansbury, “Because she’s old. I always like old women because she makes me look young.”
Regarding the D.C.-set drama, Ed Koch opined, “It’s like an old Greek play on politics, and just as wise.”