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RIALTO CHATTER: Angela Lansbury to Star with James Earl Jones in THE BEST MAN on Broadway?

James Earl Jones, who most recently starred as Hoke Colburn, the chauffeur in Driving Miss Daisy will return to Broadway in the role of the feisty, folksy and wily ex- U.S. President Arthur Hockstader in Gore Vidal'S THE BEST MAN coming to Broadway in the spring of 2012. Reported first by Variety, he revealed last night while being honored with the Monte Cristo Award at Bridgewaters-South Street Seaport that starring alongside him will be five-time Tony Winner Angela Lansbury making her return to the stage after most recently appearing as Madame Armfeldt in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. 

A play about power, ambition, political secrets and the race for the presidency, Gore Vidal'S THE BEST MAN will be directed by Michael Wilson, who recently directed the acclaimed epic production of Horton Foote's The Orphans Home Cycle Part I,II and III at The Signature Theatre Company as well as the recent Dividing The Estate on Broadway. Gore Vidal'S THE BEST MAN was Vidal's second play following the success of his international comedy hit, Visit to a Small Planet.

Gore Vidal'S THE BEST MAN last played on Broadway in September of 2000 starring Elizabeth Ashley, Charles Durning, Christine Ebersole, Spalding Gray, Michael Learned, Chris Noth, Mark Blum, Jonathan Hadary, and Jordan Lage. The production was honored with the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play. 

Gore Vidal'S THE BEST MAN will make its return to Broadway in its first major revival since its critically acclaimed run in 2000. Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Michael B. Rothfeld (Eagle Productions), and Darren Bagert (Infinity Stages), the producers of that production, will be reuniting to present the work in the spring of 2012.

Gore Vidal. Vidal is recognized as one of our foremost authors and essayists of the last seven decades. In addition to a major sequence of novels about American history and satirical novels, Vidal has written dozens of television plays, film scripts and even three mystery novels under a pseudonym. He has also written over a hundred essays, gathered in several volumes published between 1962 and 2001. Vidal's career as an essayist culminated in 1993 when he won the National Book Award for United States: Essays, 1952-1992. His credits include the following as a Novelist: The City and the Pillar, Burr, 1876, Lincoln, Hollywood, The Golden Age, The Judgement of Paris, Messiah, Julian, Washington, D.C., Myra Breckinridge and Duluth. Essayist: United States. Memoirist: Screening History, Palimpsest. Playwright: Visit to a Small Planet, Romulus, Weekend, An Evening with Richard Nixon. Screenwriter: Suddenly, Last Summer, The Best Man, Is Paris Burning? Film actor: Gattaca, Bob Roberts. Vidal is also a Congressional Candidate both in New York and California.

Michael Wilson was represented last season by Horton Foote's critically acclaimed three part, nine hour The Orphans' Home Cycle, for which Wilson received a Drama Desk as well as the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Director of a Play. On Broadway, he has directed Foote's Dividing the Estate (Tony Award nom, Best Play), and Matthew Barber's Enchanted April (Tony Award nom, Best Play) as well as John Van Druten's Old Acquaintance for Roundabout Theatre Company. His Off-Broadway credits include the premieres of Christopher Shinn's What Didn't Happen (Playwrights Horizons), Tina Howe's Chasing Manet (Primary Stages), and Eve Ensler's Necessary Targets as well as the New York premieres of Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children (Lincoln Center Theatre) and The Day Emily Married, Jane Anderson's Defying Gravity and Tennessee Williams' The Red Devil Battery Sign. Regional work includes plays at Alley Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, New York Stage & Film, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Hartford Stage where he was Artistic Director from 1998 to 2011. He is currently represented by the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore starring Olympia Dukakis, and will direct the premiere of Christopher Shinn's Picked at The Vineyard Theatre this April.

Jeffrey Richards Jeffrey Richards made his debut as a Broadway producer with the 2000 revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man.

Jerry Frankel received Tony Awards for producing Hair, August: Osage County, Spring Awakening, Glengarry Glen Ross, Death of a Salesman and the recent revival of La Cage aux Folles. This season: A Life in the Theatre, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Merchant of Venice. Other Broadway: Race; Superior Donuts; A Little Night Music; Come Fly Away; Blithe Spirit; Desire Under the Elms; Neil LaBute's Reasons to Be Pretty; Will Ferrell's You're Welcome America; Speed-the-Plow; November; The Homecoming; Talk Radio; Radio Golf (NY Drama Critics Circle Award); Enchanted April (Outer Critics Circle Award); Gore Vidal's The Best Man (Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards, Outstanding Revival of a Play); Jekyll & Hyde; You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Drama Desk Award).

Eagle Productions (Producer) Eagle Productions LLC is a theatrical Production Company with credits on and off Broadway. Michael B. Rothfeld co-produced the critically acclaimed off-Broadway revival of Our Town, as well as Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight at the Promenade Theatre. He is delighted to continue his association with Jeffrey Richards, whom he has known since they were graduate students at Columbia University School of Journalism. Mr. Rothfeld is also a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia's Graduate School of Business. Gore Vidal's The Best Man (2000 production) marked his Broadway producing debut.

INFINITY Stages The Tony Award-winning team is represented by Darren Bagert and Martin Massman. Their productions have collectively garnered a total of 27 Tony nominations, some of which include Guys and Dolls, Company, Sweeney Todd, Long Day's Journey, and TheBest Man. Other productions currently in development: Picnic, Ruthless! the musical, and the play, Kiss of the Spider Woman.


Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

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