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Kate L. joins 'Dracula' production as Thora Birch is fired


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Veddy interestink!


The producers of the Off Broadway revival of “Dracula” fired their star actress Thora Birch on Friday, four days before the play’s first performance, the production’s director and Ms. Birch said in interviews on Monday. Ms. Birch, a 28-year-old actress, is best known for the films “American Beauty” and “Ghost World,” and was preparing to make her New York stage debut. She said that she was “in a state of shock” over her dismissal and the subsequent order from the producers to leave the theater immediately.


The two sides offered sharply different interpretations of the events that led up to Ms. Birch’s firing from “Dracula,” which is still scheduled to begin preview performances on Tuesday night at the Little Shubert Theater.


The director, Paul Alexander, said the decision had nothing to do with Ms. Birch’s acting abilities, which he praised; she was playing the central female character, Lucy Seward, the love interest of Count Dracula. Mr. Alexander said that Ms. Birch was fired because her father, Jack, had threatened another actor during a rehearsal on Thursday night. Mr. Birch, in an interview, denied making any threat.


Mr. Birch, a former adult film star who is Ms. Birch’s manager, had attended most rehearsals to provide support and guidance for his daughter. At one point during Thursday’s rehearsal, Mr. Birch confronted an actor who had been working on a scene with Ms. Birch.


According to Mr. Alexander, who was told of the incident afterward by the actor, Mr. Birch asked the actor why he was rubbing Ms. Birch’s back during the scene. The actor – who none of the sides would name – said that he had been directed to do so as part of the scene. Mr. Birch objected, saying that the backrub was unnecessary, and told the actor to stop. (It is unusual for anyone other than a production’s director to instruct an actor.)


When the actor tried to explain further what he was doing, Mr. Birch said, according to Mr. Alexander: “Listen, man, I’m trying to make this easier on you – don’t touch her.”


Mr. Birch, in an interview on Monday, denied using those words. Mr. Birch said in the interview that his daughter had been “a little uncomfortable on stage because an actor kept rubbing her back.


“I was trying to convey Thora’s discomfort,” Mr. Birch said. “In no way was I making a threat.”


Mr. Alexander said the actor felt uncomfortable with Mr. Birch’s directive and tone. Asked if the actor felt threatened, Mr. Alexander said, “I can’t have one of my actors in a situation where is is physically threatened by the father of anyone.”


Mr. Alexander and the producers met on Friday morning and decided to remove Ms. Birch from the show; the lead producer, Alexander Morr, called Ms. Birch’s agent, Steve Glick, and relayed what had happened and asked Mr. Glick to instruct the Birches to leave the theater, Mr. Alexander said. They did a short time later.


Mr. Birch said that Mr. Glick had said nothing about the backrub incident or concern about a threatening environment. “What I heard was that Paul Alexander felt he was not getting the performance that he wanted from Thora,” Mr. Birch said. This came as a surprise, he added, because Mr. Alexander had not complained about Ms. Birch’s work during her three weeks of rehearsal on the play.


Mr. Glick, asked by email for the reason for Ms. Birch’s firing, did not respond directly, saying that he had not spoken to Mr. Alexander.


Ms. Birch said that she had been “blindsided” by the firing.


“For three weeks I was just doing my thing, and everything I hear was positive, that the work I was doing was wonderful,” Ms. Birch said. “Maybe it’s some kind of misunderstanding. I mean, there had been no tensions, everything was going wonderfully. Then Friday they just asked me to leave the building.


“I’m totally in a state of shock over this, I still can’t believe it,” said Ms. Birch.


Mr. Birch had been a frequent presence at “Dracula” rehearsals. Ms. Birch’s contract had called for her to have a bodyguard, and Mr. Birch said that he was serving that role because “Thora had had some stalking issues in the past.” But he and Ms. Birch also said he had been on hand to offer support and advice to Ms. Birch and confer with her about upcoming projects, including a film that Ms. Birch said her father was co-producing.


“My dad is my support, and he is the best support that I could ever have,” Ms. Birch said.


Mr. Alexander, the director, said that “it was odd to have Jack Birch around so much, but that it hadn’t really been a problem until Thursday.” At another point during Thursday’s rehearsal, Mr. Alexander said he noticed Mr. Birch peering through a window that was part of a library set while a scene with Ms. Birch was underway.


“I couldn’t believe my eyes and turned to a crew member and said, ‘Is that Jack Birch looking through the window at Thora?’ ”


Mr. Birch said that he had been backstage at that moment examining “a loose, very wobbly platform that Thora and others had to walk across.”


Mr. Birch and Ms. Birch said that he had been her manager for years. Mr. Birch and Ms. Birch’s mother, Carol Connors, were adult film stars in the 1970s. Ms. Connors is best known for the film “Deep Throat.”


Mr. Birch has been on film sets with Ms. Birch before; a New York Post gossip column reported in 2007 that he had been present during Ms. Birch’s taping of a sex scene for her movie “The Winter of Frozen Dreams.”


Ms. Birch said that she did not know if she would pursue legal action against the production or file a complaint with the Actors’ Equity union. A spokeswoman for the union said that no complaint had been filed.


Ms. Birch has been replaced by her understudy, Emily Bridges, whose father is the actor Beau Bridges; Ms. Bridges’ role will be played by Katharine Luckinbill, whose parents are the actors Laurence Luckinbill and Lucie Arnaz. “Dracula” is scheduled for a 13-week run, starring George Hearn (a Tony Award winner for “Sunset Boulevard” and “La Cage aux Folles”) as the vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Lucie, Larry, and Kate at the opening:




More photos here: http://www.theaterma...l-at_33107.html

Aww, the Luckinbills must be so proud! Very cool.


I'd love to see this (wonder if it'll tour??) as it features one of my personal favorites, the hunky and talented Jake Silberman, one half of the long-time tortured gay couple (known as "Nuke", for their characters Luke & Noah) who couldn't seem to get together on the now defunct As the World Turns on CBS.


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