Laura Linney, Cynthia Nixon to Double Up on Broadway in 'The Little Foxes'

Courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon

The stars will alternate in the main female roles in Daniel Sullivan's revival of the classic 1939 Lillian Hellman drama for Manhattan Theatre Club.

The claws are coming out on Broadway.

Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon will star in a spring 2017 revival of Lillian Hellman's classic drama about the struggle for an aristocratic Southern family business, The Little Foxes, to be directed by Tony winner Daniel Sullivan for Manhattan Theatre Club.

In a first for the company, the two stars will alternate in the warring lead female roles of Regina Hubbard Giddens, the scheming daughter of a wealthy early 20th-century Alabama clan shut out of the family fortune by her gender; and Birdie Giddens, her alcoholic sister-in-law.

Rich in juicy themes of greed and ambition, betrayal, blackmail and retribution, the play was a smash in its original 1939 Broadway run, which starred Tallulah Bankhead as Regina. Other big names who have taken on the role include Anne Bancroft, Elizabeth Taylor and Stockard Channing, while Bette Davis starred in William Wyler's 1941 film version.

Sullivan has previously directed both Linney and Nixon in MTC productions. He staged Sight Unseen and Time Stands Still with Linney, who earned Tony nominations for both plays; and Rabbit Hole with Nixon, who won a lead actress Tony for her role.

While it's standard practice in repertory theaters, the tradition of actors switching roles throughout a run is relatively uncommon on Broadway, though Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly alternated leads in Sam Shepard's True West in 2000.

London has more recently seen some notable examples: Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller took turns in the main roles of monster and creator in Danny Boyle's production of Frankenstein in 2011, while Kristin Scott Thomas and Lia Williams also rotated roles in Harold Pinter's Old Times in 2013.

The Little Foxes was last revived on Broadway in 1997. The new production will play a limited engagement, beginning previews March 29 at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with its official opening set for April 19. Additional cast and creative team are to be announced.

Other shows already announced for MTC's 2016-17 season include Mary-Louise Parker and Denis Arndt in Simon Stephens' Heisenberg, beginning performances Sept. 20; and the first Broadway staging of August Wilson's Jitney, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, which starts Dec. 28.