EXCLUSIVE: Dan Gordon’s stage adaptation of the five-Oscar-winning 1983 weeper and the Larry McMurtry novel that spawned it will make its U.S. debut starting October 29 at the adventurous off-Broadway complex 59E59 Theaters. That’s a decade after Terms of Endearment first was announced as a Broadway-bound co-production of the Hartford Stage Company and Houston’s Alley Theater that was to have starred Dallas doyenne Linda Gray. That production was canceled at the last minute, for reasons that remain unclear.
The 59E59 brain trust of artistic director Elysabeth Kleinhans, executive director Peter Tear and managing director Brian Beirne are teaming with Broadway producers Roy Furman and Julian Schlossberg and The Director’s Company, suggesting that hopes for a commercial transfer remain alive.
Whether the show will come in with Gray remains an open question. Auditions are being held in New York today, and Gray recently announced that she has a guest role in the UK’s Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks. But Gray did essay the central role of Aurora (for which Shirley MacLaine won an Oscar) on a UK provinces tour and has increased her legit presence while appearing in the latter-day TV iteration of Dallas. Among other stage roles, she has played Mrs. Robinson in the West End and Broadway productions (subbing for Kathleen Turner) of The Graduate. (And here’s a munchy tidbit: That’s Gray’s shapely noir-knickered leg being ogled by Dustin Hoffman in the film’s iconic 1967 poster.)
The tale of an obsessive mom, her unconventional daughter (Debra Winger in the film) and the cranky but irresistible aging astronaut next door (Jack Nicholson, also an Oscar winner), Terms of Endearment will run through December 11. It replaces the previously announced Madame La Gimp, which has been postponed. Gordon (Highway to Heaven, The Celestine Prophecy) adapted the play from both James L. Brooks’ Oscar-winning screenplay and the novel. The director Michael Parva and full producing team includes the Directors Company, Schlossberg and Furman in association with Invictus Theater Company and GR8 Theatricals, which mounted the UK stand.