NEW YORK (AP) — The chance to work on Broadway with Woody Allen, Zach Braff and Susan Stroman were strong lures, but being able to cradle a dog onstage for the first time may have been the clincher for Tony Award winner Karen Ziemba.
Ziemba has signed on to play Eden Brent, an aggressively perky actress, in the upcoming musical adaptation of Allen's crime caper "Bullets Over Broadway." A tiny dog named Mister Woofles will be her constant companion.
"This will be the first time I will actually be working with a live animal onstage," Ziemba said Tuesday following her return to New York after starring in "Hello Dolly" in Chicago. "I'm so excited to meet Trixie, who is playing Mister Woofles."
For Ziemba, who won a Tony for "Contact" and also starred on Broadway in "Curtains" and "Steel Pier," the chance to work on one of her favorite Allen works was "kind of a no-brainer."
Originally written by Allen and Douglas McGrath, the story follows a struggling young playwright who is forced to cast a mobster's talentless girlfriend in his latest drama. Allen has adapted the screenplay and Braff will play the hero, portrayed by John Cusack in the 1994 film. Ziemba's role was played in the film by Tracey Ullman.
Five-time Tony winner Stroman will direct and choreograph the show, which will start performances March 11 at the St. James Theatre and open April 10. The musical will feature a full orchestra playing tunes from the 1920s.
The rest of the 29-person cast includes Marin Mazzie ("Next to Normal"), Vincent Pastore ("The Sopranos"), Betsy Wolfe ("The Mystery of Edwin Drood"), Lenny Wolpe ("The Drowsy Chaperone") and Helene Yorke ("Grease").
The musical reunites Ziemba and Stroman, who collaborated on "Contact," ''Crazy For You" and "Steel Pier." Said the actress: "To work with her again and be in a room with her is so exciting." Ziemba also worked with Braff before, on a 2007 episode of "Scrubs," playing a radiologist in an episode parody of "Les Miserables."
Ziemba, a dog lover, will now get a chance to cuddle a dog onstage not long after the passing of her beloved 16½-year-old terrier, Macduff. She'll be able to bond with Trixie, a Pomeranian, when rehearsals begin next week.
"I've had dogs all my life and haven't had one for a little while now, so this will be a very interesting journey for me. And something I've never done before: learning to bond with this animal," she says. "I'm very excited."
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits