The Women (play)

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The Women
First edition
Written by Clare Boothe Luce
  • Mary (Mrs. Haines)
  • Crystal Allen
  • Sylvia (Mrs. Fowler)
  • Peggy (Mrs. Day)
  • Nancy Blake
  • Edith (Mrs. Potter)
  • Mrs. Morehead
  • Countess De Lage
Date premiered December 26, 1936 (1936-12-26)
Place premiered Ethel Barrymore Theatre
Genre Comedy of manners
Setting New 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 play an important role in the action on-stage, they are strictly characters mentioned but never seen.

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]



After seven previews, a revival directed by Morton Da Costa opened on April 25, 1973, at the 46th Street Theatre, where it ran for 63 performances. The cast included Dorothy Loudon, Myrna Loy, Alexis Smith, Kim Hunter, Rhonda Fleming, Jan Miner, Camila Ashland, and Cynthia Lister as Little Mary Haines. Other productions have starred Gloria Swanson and Elaine Stritch.

After 32 previews, a second revival directed by Scott Elliott opened on November 8, 2001, at the American Airlines Theatre, where it ran for 77 performances. The cast included Kristen Johnston, Rue McClanahan, Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Coolidge, Jennifer Tilly, Heather Matarazzo, and Hallie Kate Eisenberg. Fashion guru Isaac Mizrahi won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design, and Coolidge was nominated as Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play. This production was also filmed for the PBS series Stage On Screen. The television broadcast premiere took place on June 8, 2002.



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 directed and co-wrote a long-in-development contemporary remake of the film, starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes and Annette Bening, which was released in 2008.


On February 7, 1955, the NBC anthology drama series Producers' Showcase broadcast an adaptation of the play.[6] 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,[7] while Mary Astor portrayed Nancy Blake and Bibi Osterwald was Edith Potter.


  1. ^ "The Women". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 21 September 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 2016-09-13. 
  4. ^ "'The Women' Start Knitting Tonight at the Ethel Barrymore". The New York Times. December 26, 1936. Retrieved 2016-09-13. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah 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 2016-09-13. 
  6. ^ Producers' Showcase: "The Women"
  7. ^ Life, February 28, 1955.

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