Friday, April 23, 2021

Oprah Takes a Pass on ‘Night, Mother,’ but Still Eyeing Broadway Debut

Oprah-Winfrey*Oprah Winfrey’s desire to do Broadway is not a secret, but we will have to wait a bit longer for her to grace the stage.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey revealed that her Broadway debut won’t be opposite Audra McDonald in the George C. Wolfe-directed revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “‘Night, Mother.” According to the former daytime TV queen, the production’s material was too dark for her. So much so that Winfrey stated that she didn’t want to be “in the space of suicide every night for six months,” and that she’d “like something with a happier ending.”

Written by Marsha Norman in 1983, “‘Night, Mother” revolves around a mother ’s attempt to stop her daughter (McDonald) from committing suicide. If she stayed, Winfrey would’ve played the mother in the play.

The production opens with the daughter nonchalantly telling her mother that, by morning, she will be dead, as she plans to commit suicide that very evening, Shadow and Act notes. An extended dialogue follows the daughter’s revelation between her and her mother. Throughout the play, the daughter slowly reveals her reasons for deciding to take her life, and how meticulously she had planned her own death. As a result, the production is brought to a disturbing – yet unavoidable – climax.

“Night, Mother” was originally brought to theater in 1983 at American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Kathy Bates and Anne Pitoniak starring as the daughter and mother. It’s Broadway run at the John Golden Theatre resulted in 4 Tony Award nominations for Best Play, Best Actress in a Play (both Bates and Pitoniak) and Best Director (Tom Moore).

A film adaption of “Night, Mother” starring Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft came three years later in 1986 followed a Broadway revival of 65 performances and 26 previews from Nov. 14, 2004 to Jan. 9.

Shadow and Act mentioned that “Night, Mother” has won rave reviews from critics and the audience during its Broadway runs and has enjoyed numerous sold out shows since its debut. At this time, there is no word on whether a revival of the play minus Winfrey, still featuring McDonald and directed by Wolfe is still in the works.

In the meanwhile, Winfrey has seemingly moved on to with plans to make her Broadway acting debut in another production. The New York Times reports that Winfrey is “working closely” on a Broadway revival of the “The Color Purple” this fall, however no details have been revealed about the play, except that that Jennifer Hudson is among those cast.

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