The fourth revival (fifth Broadway production in total) of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes opened at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre April 19, and although Laura Linney bowed as the lead, Regina Giddens, come tonight’s curtain she will slip into the role of Birdie Hubbard as Cynthia Nixon (who played Birdie for opening) becomes Regina.
The award-winning pair alternates roles in the production, an idea Linney pitched to artistic director Lynne Meadow.
“It was such an astonishing moment when Lynne Meadow called me and said that there was this idea, and [that] it could come from Laura Linney,” Tony winner Nixon told Playbill on the opening night red carpet via Facebook Live. “It was such an exciting idea, but also it was just the nicest compliment I think that I could ever get—that Laura Linney has these two parts she wants to do and she wants to share them with me.”
Watch the full livestream with the entire cast of The Little Foxes:
Linney was the catalyst of this particular theatrical experiment; she wanted to see how the switch would affect the narrative of the play. “It’s interesting to see what a play will hold and what it won’t hold and what is highlighted with just the change of one person—or two people,” three-time Tony nominee Linney told Playbill. “We’re still at the very beginning of figuring all that out.”
Of course, the challenge of doing two roles simultaneously is only part of the battle. “I think not worrying that the other person is doing it better than you [is the other challenge] and that secretly everybody is saying to them, ‘Oh, you know, you’re really head and shoulders above,’” Nixon confessed. “You try and quiet those thoughts down, and honestly Laura is one of the sweetest, most supportive people and it’s a hard situation not to be competitive in but I feel like she and I and everybody around have done a pretty good job of making that an experiment instead of a competition.”
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