Helen Hunt to briefly stage manage ‘Our Town’
BY JERRY TALLMER
EMILY: But, Mama, you’ve got to say something about me. Am I pretty enough…to get anybody…to get people interested in me?
MRS. WEBB: Emily, you make me tired. Now stop it. You’re pretty enough for all normal purposes…
After the show broke one evening last summer, a tall, fair-haired woman who was pretty enough — beautiful enough — for all normal purposes remained in the lobby of the Barrow Street Theatre for three-quarters of an hour, deep in conversation with members of the cast of the play she had just seen.
It was not the role of Emily she was interested in. She had already done that, for the 1989 Lincoln Center production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” No, what Helen Hunt was now thinking about was the possibility of playing the deus ex machina Stage Manager who brings all of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, to imperishable life.
“Two months later she called me,” says David Cromer — director of the brilliant audience-interweaving Greenwich Village production that makes America’s greatest play greater yet. “We spent two hours on the phone.”
And now, ten months later, Helen Hunt — whose performance as a no-nonsense waitress opposite cynic Jack Nicholson in the 1997 “As Good As It Gets” won her the Best Actress Oscar — is indeed playing the Stage Manager (from July 6th through August 1st).
In my time I’ve seen at least eight Stage Managers, from Charles Jobes in 1939 New Hampshire to two other Oscar winners (Henry Fonda, Paul Newman) to Cromer himself last year — all males. I’m ready and eager for Helen Hunt. Aren’t you?
Barrow Street Theatre is located at 27 Barrow St. (at 7th Ave. South). Performances are Tues. – Fri. at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. For tickets ($69 & $49.50), call 212-868-4444.