Set in Mexico in 1940, the drama revolves around a defrocked clergyman-turned-tour guide who's influenced by a trio of women: his rundown hotel owner friend, a prim spinster in charge of her elderly poet grandfather and a nymphomaniac teen. In 1964, Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr starred in John Huston’s film version.
Harrelson, who will play Rev Dr T Lawrence Shannon, made his West End debut three years ago in On an Average Day, for which he was nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Best Actor Award. His acting career began in New York theatre as an understudy on Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues. Within months, he was cast as the good-hearted but dim-witted bartender 'Woody Boyd' on the hit American TV series Cheers, for which he won an Emmy. He's gone on to find fame in films such as Indecent Proposal, Natural Born Killers, Kingpin, The People vs Larry Flynt and Ed TV. His other stage credits include The Zoo Story and Brooklyn Laundry with Glenn Close and Laura Dern.
Higgins, who will play Shannon’s hotel-owning widow friend Maxine, has won Oliviers for Sweet Bird of Youth, Vincent in Brixton and the 2005 Best Actress trophy for Hecuba at the Donmar Warehouse. She’s currently at the Lyric starring opposite Brian Dennehy in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, which finishes its limited season on 5 November 2005.
Also confirmed for The Night of the Iguana cast is Jenny Seagrove, who will play middle-aged spinster Hannah. Seagrove’s recent West End credits include The Secret Rapture, Brief Encounter and The Odd Couple.
The production is presented by Bill Kenwright, whose current production of A Few Good Men, starring another Hollywood star, Rob Lowe, will be followed at the Theatre Royal Haymarket by A Man for All Seasons with Martin Shaw and next spring’s Peter Hall revival of Hay Fever, led by Judi Dench (See News, 3 Oct 2005).
- by Terri Paddock