Helen Hunt, who took home an Oscar on Monday for "As Good as It Gets," is finishing the week by making official what has been hinted about for several weeks: She will come to New York this summer to play Viola in the Lincoln Center Festival production of "Twelfth Night."
Kyra Sedgwick will play Olivia, and Nicholas Hytner will direct, with sets by Bob Crowley. After 24 festival performances, beginning June 19, the production will continue at the Vivian Beaumont Theater until the end of August.Hunt's visit is part of a continuing trend toward more New York stage appearances by movie and television stars, usually in limited runs.
When the New York Shakespeare Festival opens its season at the newly remodeled Delacorte Theater in Central Park with a revival of Thornton Wilder's "Skin of Our Teeth," Frances Conroy will be Mrs. Antrobus and Kristen Johnston, a star of the sitcom "Third Rock From the Sun," will play her maid, Sabina. John Goodman is considering playing Antrobus. Performances, staged by Irene Lewis, artistic director of Center Stage in Baltimore, will run from June 12 through July 12.
Then, in the fall, Martin Short will return to Broadway in a revival of "Little Me," the Neil Simon-Carolyn Leigh-Cy Coleman musical, at the Roundabout Theater. Rob Marshall, choreographer and co-director of the Roundabout's current "Cabaret" revival, will direct and choreograph the production.
Sid Caesar originally played the seven men in the life of Belle Poitrine, the heroine of the Patrick Dennis novel that inspired the 1962 musical. It will be Short's first appearance on Broadway since Simon's "Goodbye Girl," though he starred in "Promises, Promises" last year for City Center's Encores series. That show was also directed by Marshall.
"What's intriguing to me about `Little Me,' " Marshall said, "is that it's one of those plays that's rarely done, because it has to be done for somebody. There has to be a star to build it around." He continued: "Without Marty, we wouldn't do it. And we're fortunate that we still have Neil and Cy with us, and they'll be working with us and tailoring it for Marty."
- TURNING THE CHEEK - Cheek by Jowl, the British theater troupe headed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod whose imaginative restagings of the classics have drawn international praise, is closing its offices and ending its productions after its current tour of "Much Ado About Nothing."
After the production, which opened Wednesday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and runs there through April 5, Cheek by Jowl will come together only as opportunities arise, for individual productions, Donnellan said.
"We decided we needed some time to rethink the things we're doing," he said. "What we do is exploratory and experimental, and it's always difficult to maintain that. So this is a death to be a rebirth."
The company is probably best known in the United States for its all-male "As You Like It" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1994. Cheek by Jowl also staged "The Duchess of Malfi" there in 1994.
- NOT A REVIVAL: Despite a long pedigree, Cole Porter's "High Society," which begins previews March 31, will not qualify as a revival because a production of it has never played on Broadway. Another reason, it turns out, is that the show is different from previous productions, also based on "The Philadelphia Story," with different songs and a different book.
The director Michael Wilson has been named the new artistic director of the Hartford Stage, succeeding Mark Lamos, who ran the theater for 18 years. Wilson said that Hartford audiences could expect to see more new plays and that next season he intended to begin a decadelong marathon of the works of Tennessee Williams.