Dallas' Gray Becomes Fifth Mrs Robinson, 1 OctDate: 29 August 2001
American television actress Linda Gray (pictured) has been named as the fifth star to assume the Mrs Robinson mantle in the West End production of The Graduate at the Gielgud Theatre. Gray will make her West End stage debut in Terry Johnson's stage adaptation of the classic film. Starting from 1 October, Gray will play the part of the middle-aged seductress for 18 weeks only. She takes over from Anne Archer who finishes her contract on 29 September.
Gray is best-known for her role as Sue Ellen, the sultry but alcoholic wife of schemer JR Ewing, in the long-running American TV soap opera, Dallas. Her other television credits include Melrose Place, Models Inc, Lovejoy, Haywire and Not in Front of the Children. On stage, Gray has appeared in US productions of The Vagina Monologues, Love Letters and Agnes of God.
The part of Mrs Robinson was first made famous by Anne Bancroft in Mike Nichols' 1967 film - which also starred Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross - about a young man who has an affair with an older woman and then falls in love with her daughter. Kathleen Turner, who is expected to return to the role when the play opens on Broadway, originated the role on stage last April, when the Johnson's adaptation of The Graduate premiered at the Gielgud, and caused a sensation by appearing naked in one - albeit brief and dimly lit - scene.
Subsequent West End Mrs Robinsons, all high-profile, have been Texan model Jerry Hall, British siren Amanda Donohoe and, currently, Archer, best known for playing Michael Douglas' betrayed wife in the 1987 hit film Fatal Attraction.
The Graduate is written by Terry Johnson, adapted from the original novel by Charles Webb and the motion picture screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. Johnson also directs, with design by Rob Howell, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Mike Walker. The Graduate is produced in the West End by John Reid and Sacha Brooks.
The comedy has broken box office records at the Gielgud, where it opened with one of the highest advances ever for a straight play in the West End. To date, The Graduate has taken over £8.5 million at the box office. Additional productions are now planned in 20 countries over the next two years.
- by Terri Paddock