How many actresses would like to portray MAE WEST? When director Louis Lopardi placed the official casting call for the play "Courting Mae West" in Actors' Access, within 48 hours 690 responses had flooded his mailbox.
• • Since "Courting Mae West" — — a serious-minded comedy based on true events during the Prohibition Era — — has a cast of seven, not every resume was intended for the "diamonds is my career" gal. Another actress will portray Beverly West and Texas Guinan, for instance.
• • But the largest number of replies, according to Mr. Lopardi, was for the role of Starr Faithfull [called Sara Starr in the play]. He received 270 headshots and cvs from actresses eager to play the fatal flapper. Starr's role calls for a very thin, stylish woman in her mid-twenties. As written, Sara Starr is a complex creature with a generous store of nervous discontent, harsh in her judgments of others, and quick to see individuals as defective because they are not enough like her. When John O'Hara wrote about the beautiful party girl, who met death at age 25, he renamed her Gloria Wandrous and made her the centerpiece of Butterfield 8.
• • As Mr. Lopardi heads for his first round of auditions on Friday and Saturday [April 25th — 26th, 2008] at The Producers Club in Manhattan, what will he look for in the next Mae West? "Her vitality was legendary," said the director. "And Mae West had industrial strength charisma."
• • What helps a stage director select the right individual? The first step is "typing-out by headshots plus experience," he explained, "and then short screening auditions."
• • What are some red flags? Showing up totally costumed for the role is a warning sign Mr. Lopardi is aware of. "An actress can suggest Mae West by wearing a boa — — but if she shows up decked out like Diamond Lil, I would be leery."
• • The casting and the elimination rounds begin today. Later there will be callbacks. Check this blog again to see who will play Mae in "Courting Mae West" in mid-July at the Algonquin Theatre in New York City.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • 1927 • •