Farrah Fawcett's onstage extremities
In all of the obituaries and appreciations about the late Farrah Fawcett hitting the news today, two fleeting details deserve special attention for her fans. Although she wasn't a stage animal by any stretch, Fawcett took time out during her career to act in two high-profile theatrical productions. One of them would prove to be a career high; the other was a notorious failure.
In 1983, Fawcett took over the lead role in William Mastrosimone's drama "Extremities," which was then playing to great acclaim (and controversy) off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre. Fawcett, who replaced Susan Sarandon, played a would-be rape victim who manages to turn the tables on her attacker by tying him up and confronting him with the help of her roommates.
To everyone's surprise, the onetime "Charlie's Angels" star excelled in the physically demanding role and won some of the best reviews of her career, helping her to shake off (at least a little) her sexpot image and assume the mantle of a serious actress. "Extremities" would eventually prove to be a crucial part of Fawcett's career -- she played the role of Marjorie again in the 1986 feature film adaptation of the play and received a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a drama.
Her much-belated theatrical follow-up in 2003 would unfortunately end up being the virtual opposite of her success in "Extremities." Fawcett was set to star in the Broadway run of Nancy Hasty's play "Bobbi Boland," a comedy about a former Florida beauty queen whose fragile existence is shattered by the arrival of a younger woman.
One week into previews at the Cort Theatre, the show's producer decided to pull the plug, making "Bobbi Boland" one of the few Broadway productions to close before it had even opened. At the time, Fawcett told New York magazine: "I can’t really explain it. I would rather have gone up against the critics. So they didn’t like it, so it closed -- at least we would have known."
After that debacle, Fawcett spent the rest of her career in television and film. Theater audiences will never know how the star would have fared in her Broadway debut, but she (and we) will always have "Extremities."
-- David Ng
Image: The poster for the 1986 feature-film adaptation of the play "Extremities." Credit: Atlantic Releasing and MGM Home Entertainment