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Veterans Jane Fonda and Cloris Leachman return to Broadway (well, Leachman's a maybe)

November 3, 2008 |  5:15 pm

Some new challenges for two veteran, Academy Award-winning actresses:

Jane_fonda Jane Fonda, 70, will return to Broadway for the first time in 46 years in Tectonic Theatre Project's production of Moises Kaufman's "33 Variations."  The production, to be directed by Kaufman, also represents his Broadway debut as a playwright.

Fonda first appeared on the Broadway stage in the 1960 play "There Was a Little Girl," for which she earned a Tony nomination.  She also played Broadway in a 1963 revival of "Strange Interlude."

Kaufman's play, which tells the story of musicologist Katherine Brandt (Fonda) and her quest to discover why Ludwig von Beethoven became obsessed with a trivial waltz, was presented -- without Fonda -- at La Jolla Playhouse in April (read Charles McNulty's review).

And 82-year-old Cloris Leachman...


... who was last week booted off "Dancing With the Stars"  after surviving past the midway point as the series' oldest contestant, will have the chance to redeem herself: She reportedly may join the cast of Broadway's "Young Frankenstein," reprising the role of Frau Blucher, the very scary ex-lover of the late Dr. Frankenstein in the 1974 Mel Brooks film. (Here's our profile of Leachman by Susan King, talking about Leachman's role in the recent film remake of "The Women.")

According to Playbill's report, Brooks did not originally cast Leachman for the Broadway production in 2007 because he thought "the demands of the show might kill her."

Leachman's Broadway credits include "Sundown Beach" (1948), "The Crucible" (1953) and "Masquerade" (1959).

--Diane Haithman

UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified David Binder as the director of "33 Variations."

Photo of Jane Fonda: Evan Agostini/Associated Press

Photo: Cloris Leachman takes a rest on the floor -- surrounded by hosts Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris and dancing partner Corky Ballas -- after being voted out of the competition on "Dancing With the Stars." Credit: Kelsey McNeal/Associated Press