Ethel Barrymore Theatre, (11/19/1981 - 3/13/1982)

First Preview: Nov 18, 1981
Opening Date: Nov 19, 1981
Closing Date: Mar 13, 1982
Total Previews: 3
Total Performances: 126

Category: Play, Comedy, Original, Broadway
Setting: In the living room of a West Side, New York apartment.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Produced by Robert Whitehead and Roger L. Stevens; Produced in association with Center Theatre Group / Ahmanson Theatre (Robert Fryer, Artistic Director)

Written by Ernest Thompson; Music arranged by David Krane

Directed by Noel Willman

Scenic Design by Ben Edwards; Costume Design by Jane Greenwood; Lighting Design by Thomas Skelton; Assistant to Mr. Edwards: Eduardo Sicangco; Assistant to Miss Greenwood: Eduardo Sicangco; Assistant to Mr. Skelton: Craig Miller

General Manager: Oscar E. Olesen; Company Manager: David Hedges

Production Stage Manager: Ben Strobach; Stage Manager: Valentine Mayer; Assistant Stage Mgr: Sally Lapiduss

Musical Supervisor: David Krane

General Press Representative: Seymour Krawitz; Press Representative: Patricia Krawitz; Casting: Terry Fay; Miss Hepburn's Piano Teacher and Piano Consultant: Laura Fratti; Miss Loudon's Violin Teacher: Elvira Morgenstern; Violin Consultant: Louis Gabowitz; Advertising: Lawrence Weiner and Associates; Cover Photo by John Bryson; Assistant to Mr. Whitehead: Doris Blum; Assistant to Mr. Stevens: Jean Bankier

Opening Night Cast

Katharine HepburnMargaret Mary Elderdice
Dorothy LoudonCara Varnum
Regina BaffRobin Bird
Don Howard
Broadway debut
Glen Dabrinsky
David MarguliesSerge Barrescu

Standby: Ludi Claire (Cara Varnum)

Understudies: Corinne Neuchateau (Robin Bird) and Pat Santino (Glen Dabrinsky, Serge Barrescu)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1982 Best Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Katharine Hepburn


New York Daily News: "The West Side Waltz"

There comes a moment late in "The West Side Waltz," which opened last evening at the Barrymore, when Katharine Hepburn, chin tilted up and eyes shining, fantasizes about a waltzing, carriage-driven Viennese society, so unlike the grubby life outside her West Side flat. At this moment, she is once more Tracy Lord and Alice Adams and all the other radiant young women in her past. The moment reveals how much her rare talent is wasted, or circumscribed, in this second play about the elderly by Ernest Thompson, whose "On Golden Pond" (the movie, with Hepburn and Henry Fonda, is due Dec. 4) was vastly more amusing and trenchant.

Playing an increasingly disabled widow living in a roomy and obviously rent-controlled apartment (the play's six scenes span almost two years), she is limited to portraying a sharp-tongued, fiercely independent woman, qualities that scarcely test her capabilities. The play mostly has to do with Margaret Mary Ellerdice's (Hepburn's) gradual acceptance of her spinster neighbor, Cara Varnum, appealingly played by Dorothy Loudon. What the two have in common is music: Hepburn plays an ornately-painted grand, and Loudon the violin (some fancy finger-synching here to recorded music), and both have a fondness for waltzes.

Mingling with their lives is the building's super, a stock comedy Roumanian done ably enough by David Margulies, and a waiflike Brooklyn divorcee who calls herself Robin Bird and whom Hepburn takes in as a companion. As set forth by Regina Baff with a curious speech pattern, Robin sounds as much like a Brooklynite as Indira Gandhi.

The afternoons and evenings drag along so similarly that, having seen the septuagenarian heroine get about with one cane in the first scene and two in the second, our chief interest lies in what she'll be using in the next scene and whether she'll last out the play.

Hepburn gets off her retorts with polished ease, and Loudon's "Takes" are managed with familiar skill. The next-to-closing scene introduces a new character, or caricature, a young lawyer (Don Howard). Noel Willman has directed this sprung-sofa of a comedy tidily in a setting by Ben Edwards that reeks of seedy middle-class splendor. The Hepburn fascination remains intact, but Thompson should have done much better by the lady. "The West Side Waltz" is a play that undoubtedly would sell out if every day were Wednesday and every performance a ladies' matinee.

New York Daily News

View full site