The Women (play)
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The Women Play
The Women
First edition
Written byClare Boothe Luce
  • Mary (Mrs. Haines)
  • Crystal Allen
  • Sylvia (Mrs. Fowler)
  • Peggy (Mrs. Day)
  • Nancy Blake
  • Edith (Mrs. Potter)
  • Mrs. Morehead
  • Countess De Lage
Date premieredDecember 26, 1936 (1936-12-26)
Place premieredEthel Barrymore Theatre
GenreComedy of manners
SettingNew York and Reno

The Women is a 1936 American play, a comedy of manners by Clare Boothe Luce. It is billed as a commentary on the pampered lives and power struggles of various wealthy Manhattan socialites and up-and-comers and the gossip that propels and damages their relationships. While men frequently are the subject of their lively discussions and drive the action on-stage, they are never seen or heard.

The original Broadway production, directed by Robert B. Sinclair, opened on December 26, 1936, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, where it ran for 657 performances with an all-female cast that included Margalo Gillmore, Ilka Chase, Betty Lawford, Jessie Busley, Phyllis Povah, Marjorie Main, and Arlene Francis.[1][2]


Following a premiere December 7, 1936, at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia,[3]The Women opened December 26, 1936, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City. Produced by Max Gordon, the original Broadway theatre production was directed by Robert B. Sinclair with settings by Jo Mielziner and costumes by John Hambleton.[4][5] It was revived on Broadway in 1973 at the 46th Street Theatre, running April 25-June 17, with 63 performances. It was directed by Morton Da Costa, with scenic design by Oliver Smith, costume design by Ann Roth, and lighting design by John Gleason. Other supporting staff included: production stage manager Victor Straus; stage managers Nick Malekos and Suzanne Egan; costume supervisor Ray Diffen; press representatives Shirley Herz and Stuart Fink.[6] A second revival opened November 8, 2001, at the American Airlines Theatre and closed January 13, 2002, after a 77 performances. Production staff included: Director Scott Elliott, with assisting direction by Marie Masters; production stage manager Peter Hanson; stage manager Valerie A. Peterson; scenic designer Derek McLane; costume designer Isaac Mizrahi; lighting designer Brian MacDevitt; and sound designer Douglas J. Cuomo. Jeff Francis did hair design, and Gary Arave designed the wigs. [7]


1936 Original Broadway

1973 Revival

  • Camila Ashland - Mrs. Wagstaff / Sadie
  • Caryll Coan - Pedicurist / First Girl / Helene / Girl in Distress
  • Leora Dana - A Fitter / Miss Watts / Second Woman
  • Jeanne DeBaer - Shirley / Princess Tamara / First Girl
  • Doris Dowling - A Nurse
  • Rhonda Fleming - Miriam Aarons
  • Connie Forslund - Second Girl / Mat Girl/ Debutante
  • Marian Hailey - Peggy (Mrs. John Day)
  • Kim Hunter - Mary (Mrs. Stephen Haines)
  • Bobo Lewis - Olga / Dowager
  • Cynthia Lister - Little Mary
  • Myrna Loy - Mrs. Morehead
  • Jan Miner - Countess de Lage
  • Elizabeth Perry - Customer / Miss Trimmerback / Second Girl / Third Model
  • Regina Ress - Jane
  • Polly Rowles - Miss Curtis / Lucy
  • Louise Shaffer - Second Hairdresser / Second Model / Cigarette Girl
  • Alexis Smith - Sylvia (Mrs. Howard Fowler)
  • Lynne Stuart - Mudmask / First Model
  • Claudette Sutherland - First Hairdresser / Exercise Instructress / First Woman
  • Marie Wallace - Crystal Allen
  • Patricia Wheel - Miss Shapiro
  • Mary Louise Wilson - Nancy Blake

2001 Revival

Role Production
1936 Broadway 1939 film 1973 Revival 2001 Revival 2008 remake
Sylvia Fowler Ilka Chase Rosalind Russell Alexis Smith Kristen Johnston Annette Bening
Mary Haines Margallo Gillmore Norma Shearer Kim Hunter Cynthia Nixon Meg Ryan
Crystal Allen Betty Lawford Joan Crawford Marie Wallace Jennifer Tilly Eva Mendes
Little Mary Charita Bauer Virginia Weidler Cynthia Lister Hallie Kate Eisenberg N/A
Mrs. Morehead Jessie Busley Lucile Watson Myrna Loy Mary Louis Wilson N/A
Miss Watts Virgilia Chew Ruth Hussey Leora Dana Susan Bruce N/A
Miriam Aarons Audrey Christie Paulette Goddard Rhonda Flemming Lynn Collins N/A
Countess de Lage Margaret Douglas Mary Boland Jan Miner Rue McClanahan N/A
Lucy Marjorie Main also played Lucy in the 1939 film Polly Rowles Julie Halston N/A
Peggy Day Adrienne Marden Joan Fontaine Marian Hailey Amy Ryan N/A
Miss Trimmerback Mary Murray Mary Beth Hughes Elizabeth Perry Ann Talman N/A
Nancy Blake Jane Seymour Florence Nash Mary Louise Wilson Lisa Emery N/A
Jane Ann Teeman Muriel Hutchison Regina Ress Heather Matarazzo N/A
Maggie Mary Cecil N/A N/A Mary Bond Davis Cloris Leachman
Princess Tamara Arlene Francis N/A Jeanne DeBaer Roxanna Hope N/A
Helene Arlene Francis N/A Caryll Coan Roxanne Hope N/A
Mrs. Wagstaff Ethel Jackson N/A Camila Ashland Barbara Marineau N/A
Edith Potter Phyllis Povah N/A Jennifer Coolidge N/A
Sadie Marjorie Wood N/A Camila Ashland Cheryl Stern N/A



The 1939 film version was directed by George Cukor and starred Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford. Supporting cast included Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine and Mary Boland.

In 1956, the story was made into a musical film titled The Opposite Sex, starring June Allyson and Joan Collins.

Diane English co-wrote and directed a contemporary remake of the 1939 film that was in development for 15 years. Released in 2008, it starred Jada Pinkett Smith, Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes and Annette Bening.


On February 7, 1955, the NBC anthology drama series Producers' Showcase broadcast an adaptation of the play, starring Ruth Hussey as Mary[8].Paulette Goddard and Mary Boland, who had each appeared in the 1939 film, also appeared in this production, as Sylvia Fowler and the Countess, respectively. Shelley Winters played the part of Crystal Allen,[9] while Mary Astor portrayed Nancy Blake and Bibi Osterwald was Edith Potter.

On June 18, 2002, the PBS anthology theatre series Stage on Screen broadcast a recording of the 2001 Broadway revival.

Awards and nominations

2001 Revival


  1. ^ "The Women". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ Goldstein, Malcolm (2007). "The Women". The Columbia Encyclopedia of Modern Drama, Volume 2. Columbia University Press. p. 1489. ISBN 978-0-231-14032-4.
  3. ^ "Premiere of 'The Women'". The New York Times. December 8, 1936. Retrieved .
  4. ^ "'The Women' Start Knitting Tonight at the Ethel Barrymore". The New York Times. December 26, 1936. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Atkinson, Brooks (December 28, 1936). "Clare Boothe's 'The Women' Records the Habits of the Modern Female of the Species". The New York Times. Retrieved .
  6. ^ League, The Broadway. "The Women - Broadway Play - 1973 Revival | IBDB". Retrieved .
  7. ^ League, The Broadway. "The Women - Broadway Play - 2001 Revival | IBDB". Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Producers' Showcase", Wikipedia, 2020-05-13, retrieved
  9. ^ Life, February 28, 1955.

External links

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