NEW YORK — At the moment, Linda Evans is in Seattle and Joan Collins is summering in the south of France. Ten thousand miles separates them. But come September 2006, the two divas of “Dynasty” reunite for 30 weeks of bugle-beaded, big-haired bitchery in James Kirkwood’s camp comedy “Legends.”
Apparently, Evans and Collins were so busy being gussied up on a weekly basis for their nighttime soap classic that they missed the 1986 world preem tour of “Legends,” with Carol Channing and Mary Martin. “I never even heard of it,” admits Collins.
“Has this been done before?” asked Evans.
“Legends” tells the story of two movie-star rivals in need of a comeback who decide to exploit their feuding past by touring in a less-than-vintage play produced by a less-than-reputable producer. “I was stunned when I read it,” says Evans. “Was this written for us?”
No, but Kirkwood obviously had the stars of “Dynasty” in mind. His “Legends” characters, Sylvia Glenn (the brunette bad girl) and Leatrice Monsee (the blond good girl), entertain fantasies of snagging a role on “Dynasty” or “Dallas.” Hell, these two dames are so desperate they’d even settle for a cameo on “Falcon Crest.”
At one point in the play, Kirkwood’s darts hit even closer to home when his Sylvia Glenn wonders aloud about the “witch doctor Joan Collins goes to keep looking like that!”
The answer: “Well, I read in the Enquirer where she eats monkey glands.”
Evans loves that exchange.
Collins is a tad less enthusiastic. “I smiled when I read it. It’s OK,” she opines. “But we might have to take that reference out.”
The actress says she has no particular identification with the material. “I’m an actress,” she explains. “I can find something to identify with in any character.”
For her, it’s just fun. “People go to the theater to be entertained. I don’t want to see a tortured pedophile priest.”
Evans, however, says “Legends” hits a real nerve. “If you’re an older actress, you understand the poignancy of this business,” she explains. “Men go on forever in roles, but for women it is a struggle.”
Which can turn ugly, Evans continues. “I remember working with Barbara Stanwyck (on ‘The Big Valley’) and she complained about Claudette Colbert. It was this whole world of competition.”
Evans and Collins deny that they ever feuded in their “Dynasty” days. “That was publicity that the producers thought would be good for the show,” says Collins.
So far, there has been no bickering over who plays which role in “Legends.”
“On ‘Dynasty,’ Linda was the nice, sweet woman and I was the manipulative bitch,” says Collins. And so it will be onstage when “Legends” kicks off its North America tour at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theater on Sept. 12, 2006.
“We’re doing it to type,” says Evans, who makes her stage debut with the project. “I’m jumping off the cliff. I’m not going to swim down the lagoon with the alligators by also playing the bad girl for the first time in my career.”