Moscow on the Hudson

Jeanne Tripplehorn, Lili Taylor, and Amy Irving hit the Broadway boards this month as theater's most famous siblings, in "The Three Sisters."
Masha, Irina, and Olga all dreamed of escaping the provinces for Moscow, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Lili Taylor, and Amy Irving felt similarly about returning to the New York stage. The difference is that the three actresses didn't just talk about it. They teamed up for a Broadway production of--you guessed it--The Three Sisters, directed by Scott Elliott, theater's newest wunderkind.

Chekhov is the hardest of the great playwrights to get right; we've all sat through at least one endless Uncle Vanya or The Seagull that we've tried to forget. But if any Hollywood trio can pull off the good doctor's work, it's Tripplehorn, Taylor, and Irving--skillful, magnetic actresses who exude the sort of soulful glamour Chekhov calls for.

Irving, who earlier in her career played both the intense Irina and the romantic Masha, has graduated to the role of the caretaking Olga ("Next I'll be Anfisa, the elderly nanny," she jokes). "I didn't enjoy doing theater in L.A.," Irving says. "There's no place to go after the show, no theater community. Being married to movie directors [first Steven Spielberg, now Bruno Barreto] has kept me there, but I've always wanted to move back to New York."

Taylor, fresh from yet another turn as a psychopath (she kidnapped Mel Gibson's son in Ransom), was persuaded to take on the role of Irina by the challenge of acting in her first classic. "I've always preferred off-off-off stuff," she says, "and I got kicked out of the conservatory 'cause I missed one day of classes."

For Tripplehorn, playing the ingenue Masha is a return to basics. The actress won warm notices for her work at New York's Public Theater before heading for the bloated budget and rough seas of Waterworld. Along with the upcoming romantic screen comedy Til There Was You, in which she stars opposite Dylan McDermott, Chekhov seemed the perfect way to return to her roots. "While we were sitting on a trimaran somewhere, Kevin Costner, [Waterworld director] Kevin Reynolds, and I all agreed that what we wanted to do next was something small," Tripplehorn says.

But perfectly formed, no doubt.

-Scott Baldinger
Harper's Bazaar - January 1997

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