Monday, January 18, 2010

Tyne Daly as Maria Callas?

Terrance McNally's play Master Class is loosely based on the original master classes given by Maria Callas [R.] at Juilliard. The play shows a glamorous, commanding, larger-than-life figure who is alternately dismayed and impressed by the students who parade before her.

The play's Callas retreats into recollections about the glories of her own life and career. Included in her musings are her younger years as an ugly duckling, her fierce hatred of her rivals, the unforgiving press that savaged her early performances, her triumphs at La Scala, and her affair with Aristotle Onassis. It all culminates into a monologue about sacrifice taken in the name of art.

Master Class was originally staged by the Philadelphia Theatre Company and the Mark Taper Forum. After twelve previews, the Broadway production, directed by Leonard Foglia, opened on November 15, 1995 at the John Golden Theatre, where it ran for almost 600 performances.

The original cast included Zoe Caldwell as Callas, Audra McDonald, Karen Kay Cody, David Loud, and Jay Hunter Morris. Patti LuPone and Dixie Carter subsequently replaced Caldwell and Alaine Rodin replaced McDonald later in the run.

LuPone later played the role in the London production and Faye Dunaway played the role in the national tour.

Master Class is making a comeback of sorts at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. This time, Actress Tyne Daly is taking on the role of Uber-Diva Maria Callas.

Interesting casting choice, I must say. But, when you see her in make-up, she could be relatively convincing. Don't you think?

Could Master Class be following in the footsteps of Ragtime - making the jump from the Kennedy Center to an official return to Broadway? Hmmm ... then again, maybe not.

Master Class runs at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from March 25 - April 18. Please see their website for details.

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