IT'S the big movie-stars-onstage news this week: Nicole Kidman is returning* to Broadway, this time
to do Tennessee Williams. Next fall Kidman, 43, will play Alexandra Del Lago, the aging, substance-abusing, sad and desperate actress who is the center of Williams's "Sweet Bird of Youth." But no one knows yet who will play Alexandra's traveling companion, Chance Wayne, the young, hunky would-be actor who is beside her when she wakes up in the Royal Palms Hotel in Act I.
Naturally theatergossip.com has some suggestions.
(In alphabetical order.)
1. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, 37
Don't say he's too old. When Paul Newman played Chance Wayne to Geraldine Page's Alexandra Del Lago in the original 1959 Broadway production of "Sweet Bird of Youth," he was 34 and she was 35. And don't say he can't play serious roles, despite his sitcom connections. Did you see him as Lee Harvey Oswald in "Assassins"? ("A Demon Gallery of Glory Hounds")
2. CHEYENNE JACKSON, 35
Because he had all too short a run as Woody Mahoney in "Finian's Rainbow " last fall. ("A Pot of Sunny Gold in Those Green Hills") Of course, as Chance Wayne, he probably won't get to sing.
3. JUDE LAW, 37
Playing "Hamlet" on Broadway, he proved he could sell tickets, even if Ben Brantley of The New York Times didn't care for his performance. ("Ready, Set, Emote") And he and Kidman make such a cute couple. (It would be a "Cold Mountain" reunion. But better. We hope.)
4. HAMISH LINKLATER, 34
Maybe David Cromer (who's directing the production) would like to do a comic version of "Sweet Bird." Linklater, who has managed to turn Shakespearean characters into fabulous slackers ("Shakespearean Juggling in the Park") without offending the text, could make Chance Wayne a playful sidekick. Although that castration scene would be hard to play for laughs.
5. MATTHEW MORRISON, 31
He's not just the teacher from "Glee," you know. He was very romantic as Lieutenant Cable in the recent revival of "South Pacific." ("Optimist Awash in the Tropics") And he's said some pretty jerky things in interviews, illustrating one important aspect of Chance's personality.
6. EDDIE REDMAYNE, 28
He was adorable as the assistant of Mark Rothko (Alfred Molina) in "Red" last season. Young, dissatisfied, tormented. (redonbroadway.com) It could work.
7. RYAN REYNOLDS, 33
O.K., he's never done Broadway, but he looks the part. (Seriously. Check out Google Images.) And if he took the role, he'd finally understand why his poor wife, Scarlett Johansson, was so tired last season. (Doing the usual number of performances per week in "A View From the Bridge.")
8. BOBBY STEGGERT, 29
The intensity of his character in "Ragtime." The innocence of his character in "The Grand Manner." The romance of his character in "Yank!" ("Steggert Speaks")_Could it add up to Chance? God knows he's cute enough.
9. BENJAMIN WALKER, 28
If "Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson" turns out to be a hit on Broadway, he could still be tied up. But if he signed a one-year contract, he might be free just in time. And he's Southern.
10. BEN WHISHAW, 29
He was a hot gay man in "The Pride." ("Musings on Gay Identity, Then and Now") He was fabulous in period drag as the poet John Keats in the film "Bright Star" last year. And he was one of the Bob Dylans in "I'm Not There." So we know he's versatile.
Next question: Who'll play Heavenly Finley, Chance's old flame? And does she -- having been played by Diana Hyland on Broadway and Shirley Knight in the movie -- have to be a blonde?
*She starred in "The Blue Room" in 1998, doing a much-talked-about nude scene.
WANT MORE THEATERGOSSIP? Then scroll on to read about Elizabeth Ashley and Reeve Carney and why you should even bother to show up for the 2010-11 theater season.