The new Manhattan Theatre Club revival of the 1927 George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber comedy "The Royal Family" has the critics bowing down. "The Royal Family" is a sly satire of the fabled Barrymore acting clan. This acclaimed production is sure to be among the four nominees for best play revival at June's Tony Awards.
And many in the cast of veteran actors could contend for Tony nods as well. Heading up this well-received remounting of "The Royal Family" is Tony winner Rosemary Harris as Fanny, the matriarch of the brood. Since her 1966 lead actress win for "The Lion in Winter," Harris has earned seven more Tony nods, all of them in lead. She lost her most recent race in 2000 for "Waiting in the Wings" to her daughter Jennifer Ehle for the revival of "The Real Thing."
Among her other unsuccessful Tony bids was a 1976 nod for playing the part of Julie, the defiant daughter, in the most recent revival of "The Royal Family." This time around, two-time Tony nominee Jan Maxwell shines in that role. Harris and the rest of the 1976 company re-created their performances for a 1977 television production. Stage star Eva LaGallienne won the supporting actress Emmy for her portrayal of Fanny.
Tony nominee Reg Rogers ("Holiday") takes on the plum part of Tony, the matinee idol son modeled on John Barrymore. Eventual two-time Oscar winner Fredric March earned the first of his five lead actor nods for playing this juicy role in the 1930 film version. Tony winner John Glover ("Love! Valor! Compassion!") portrays Fanny's brother. And in the true spirit of the show must go on, Broadway veteran Tony Roberts -- who fell ill during a weekend performance -- returned to his role as a loyal family friend in time for opening night.
Photo: Jan Maxwell (l), Kelli Barrett (c) and Rosemary Harris (r) in "The Royal Family" Credit: MTC