Oprah Winfrey is in talks to make her Broadway debut in a revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play ’Night, Mother, starring opposite Tony-Award winner Audra McDonald as a mother struggling to stop her daughter from killing herself, according to two theater executives familiar with the plans. Tony winner George C. Wolfe (Lucky Guy) would direct the production, which is being aimed for the 2015-16 Broadway season. The two theater executives spoke on condition of anonymity to share details about a production that is currently confidential.
The lead producer of the project, Scott Sanders, confirmed on Thursday that he was in discussions with Ms. Winfrey to make her Broadway debut, but he declined to identify the play or discuss other details.
“Oprah has had a longstanding desire to act on Broadway,” Mr. Sanders said. “She understands how unique and challenging performing live on stage will be as an actress. She and I have been looking at a number of plays and roles in order to find material and a character that truly resonate with her. We’ve recently read something that we’re both excited about but are not yet ready to officially announce the specifics.”
Ms. Winfrey and Ms. McDonald read ’Night Mother together last year with Mr. Wolfe in Mr. Sanders’s apartment, according to the two theater executives, and all involved were happy with the results. The 2015-16 timing is driven by scheduling availability, according to the theater executives. Ms. Winfrey, who delivered an acclaimed film performance in Lee Daniels’ The Butler last year, and Mr. Sanders are currently working together on a Broadway revival of the musical The Color Purple, possibly for the 2014-15 theater season. They produced the original Color Purple production on Broadway in 2005; the new version would be the stripped-down production that the Tony winner John Doyle directed to much praise in London last summer.
Ms. McDonald, a five-time Tony winner who was last on Broadway in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and whose last Broadway play was A Raisin in the Sun in 2004 (for which she won a Tony), has theater projects and other work planned for the 2014-15 season. ‘Night, Mother was written by Marsha Norman, who worked with Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Sanders as the book writer on The Color Purple.
The two-character drama originally opened on Broadway in 1983 and ran for a year, earning Tony nominations for best play and best actress for both stars, Anne Pitoniak and Kathy Bates. There was a short-lived revival on Broadway in the 2004-5 season starring Brenda Blethyn and Edie Falco. Representatives for Ms. Winfrey did not return requests for comment; a spokesman for Ms. McDonald declined comment.
article by Patrick Healy via nytimes.com