Famous Women Light Marquees On Broadway As Season Starts

From Julie Andrews to Ellen Burstyn, actresses dominate the rosters on New York stage


Comedy by Ken Ludwig.

At the Martin Beck Theatre.


Musical by Jerry Herman.

At the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.


Play by Terrence McNally.

At the John Golden Theatre.


Concert conceived and directed by Scott Wittman.

At the Walter Kerr Theatre.


Musical written and directed by Blake Edwards, with music by Henry Mancini.

At the Marquis.


Two plays by Tennessee Williams.

At Circle in the Square Theatre.


Play by Diane Shaffer.

At the Belasco

IN Hollywood, it tends to be men who rule the world. The list of top box-office stars consists of names like Cruise, Gibson, Ford, Schwarzenegger, Carrey, and Hanks. Women, with an occasional exception like Julia Roberts, don't have the same clout.

It's an unjust state of affairs, considering that women make up the majority of the population, but fortunately they are not quite so stigmatized in the theater world. Indeed, this year's Broadway season, which is one of the most active and exciting in years, is fairly teeming with shows starring strong, vibrant, and even legendary women.

Although Carol Burnett is no stranger to Broadway, having made a spectacular debut in ''Once Upon a Mattress'' in 1959, she has somehow managed to avoid trodding its boards for the last three decades (although she has appeared in several productions in California in recent years). She makes her return to the Great White Way in the just-opened, zany new comedy ''Moon Over Buffalo,'' starring opposite Philip Bosco. The evening allows for plenty of physical comedy, a skill that Burnett perfected on her lon g-running television series. ''Moon Over Buffalo'' is the only new comedy opening on Broadway this season and should prove popular with her many fans.

Julie Andrews, Burnett's occasional partner in a series of classic television specials, also makes a long-awaited return to Broadway in the musical version of one of her best films, ''Victor/Victoria.'' The show, written and directed by Andrews's husband, Blake Edwards, and featuring music by the late Henry Mancini, has been racking up huge grosses in its nationwide trek to Broadway and, barring a critical drubbing, looks to be one of the biggest hits of the season. The show is currently in previews, wi th the opening set for Oct. 25.

Patti LuPone, another musical diva, returns to Broadway with a one-woman concert, her first appearance since she starred in the hit revival of ''Anything Goes.'' ''Patti LuPone on Broadway'' will open Oct. 12 at the Walter Kerr Theater, a mere three blocks from the production of ''Sunset Boulevard'' that many in the theater community feel she should be starring in.

LuPone attracts a devoted following, as was evidenced by the ecstasy surrounding her appearance last season in the concert version of ''Pal Joey,'' and her six-week limited engagement is a sure bet to be extended. The question everyone has been asking is, will she sing any songs from ''Sunset''?

It's been 31 years since Carol Channing first opened on Broadway in ''Hello, Dolly!'' and, to paraphrase the title song, it's so nice to have her back where she belongs. She'll open later this month in the umpteenth revival of this classic Jerry Herman-Michael Stewart musical, her first appearance in the show in more than a decade.

This production starring the tireless comedienne has been touring the country for the last 14 months, attracting huge audiences wherever it played. The producers promise that this will be our last opportunity to catch the original Dolly Levi on stage.

Legendary stage actress Uta Hagen will make an exceedingly rare appearance this fall as the title character in Nicholas Wright's psychological suspense drama ''Mrs. Klein,'' about the famous psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. Hagen, a two-time Tony winner (''The Country Girl'' and ''Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?''), hasn't appeared in a commercial production in many years. She prefers to spend her time teaching and acting in workshop productions at the Herbert Berghof Studio. Students of acting everywhere s hould flock to this production, which opens Oct. 24 at the Lucille Lortel Theater.

Elizabeth Ashley, with that famously husky voice, had one of her biggest stage triumphs in the 1974 Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams's ''Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.'' She makes her first Broadway appearance in 13 years in another production of this writer's work, a double bill of one acts under the collective title ''Garden District'' at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

Comprising the one-act plays ''Something Unspoken'' and ''Suddenly Last Summer'' (the latter was made into a film with Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, and Katharine Hepburn), this production is the first time the two works have been on the same bill in New York since their original production in 1958. Also in the cast are two of the original ''Three Tall Women'' from Edward Albee's play last season - Myra Carter and Jordan Baker.

Three-time Tony winner Zoe Caldwell plays another legend, soprano Maria Callas, in ''Master Class,'' opening at the Golden Theatre Nov. 5. A new play by Terrence McNally, whose ''Love! Valour! Compassion!,'' won the Tony for Best Play last year, ''Master Class'' is a character study structured around a class in which the tempestuous diva puts aspiring opera singers through their paces. It has already been presented to great acclaim in Los Angeles and Washington.

And that's not all. Look for Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn starring opposite John Forsyth in the new play ''Sacrilege''; ''Saturday Night Live'' star Jan Hooks playing the title role of a canine in A.R. Gurney's ''Sylvia''; Blythe Danner in ''Moonlight,'' a new play by Harold Pinter; and Mary Louise Wilson in ''Full Gallop,'' a one-woman show about the famous editor of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, Diana Vreeland.

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