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What Other Famous Pairs Would You Like To See In THE GIN GAME?

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D.L. Coburn's Pulitzer-winning The Gin Game was first seen in a 56-seat theatre in Los Angeles. But a positive review from Variety caught the attention of Jon Jory, artistic director of the Actors Theatre of Louisville, who mounted it in their festival of new plays.

It was Jory who sent a copy to that beloved married couple of the American theatre, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, who had no trouble getting Mike Nichols interested in directing.

Engagements at the Long Wharf in New Haven and the Wilbur in Boston were followed by a 1977 opening on Broadway, where it ran for 517 performances and garnered a Tony Award for Tandy. That legendary production starring two theatrical treasures was preserved on film for PBS.

While there hasn't been another married couple starring in a major production of The Gin Game in the U.S., the play has often attracted actors who have a history with each other. Tandy and Cronyn were replaced by Maureen Stapleton and E.G. Marshall, who were a smash together in the original Broadway production of PLAZA SUITE and had just appeared on film in Woody Allen's INTERIORS.
The 1997 revival of THE GIN GAME was the second time Julie Harris and Charles Durning shared a Broadway stage in a two-hander. The first was a 1973 production of Hugh Leonard's THE AU PAIR MAN. It was Harris who suggested that Coburn add a moment that took advantage of her co-star's fine skills as a dancer.
Harris also had a long history with that production's director, her good friend Charles Nelson Reily. They had starred together in the musical SKYSCRAPER, and he had previously directed her in the triumphant THE BELLE OF AMHERST and the one-nighter, BREAK A LEG.
"We have no helicopters or staircases," Reilly quipped of their production of THE GIN GAME. "It's just humanity."
Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke were reunited for a television movie version of THE GIN GAME. Oddly enough, Dick Van Dyke, who spent a career delighting audiences singing and dancing, admitted to having trouble remembering his lines while playing cards.

The next pair to portray Fonsia Dorsey and Weller Martin, two lonely seniors who bond over card games in a nursing home, are, of course, Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones, who last shared a Broadway stage in 1966 in A HAND IS ON THE GATE.

While not necessarily associated with each other beyond both having long, distinguished careers on stage and screen, audiences are certainly looking forward to seeing this beloved pair in action.

Since THE GIN GAME shows no sign of losing any of its popularity, it's reasonable to think that future revivals might star such Broadway couples as Audra McDonald and Will Swenson, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick or Rebecca Luker and Danny Burstein.

What other famous pairs, married or not, could you see starring in THE GIN GAME?


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From This Author Michael Dale