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Diane Lane headed to Goodman in ‘Sweet Bird of Youth’

Diane Lane | AP

Diane Lane | AP

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Updated: August 17, 2012 6:15AM

Oscar-nominated actress Diane Lane will head the cast for director David Cromer’s upcoming Goodman Theatre production of “Sweet Bird of Youth,” the Tennessee Williams play about a fading Hollywood star and her handsome but also somewhat damaged gigolo. The show, running Sept. 15-Oct. 21, will costar Finn Wittrick, who recently starred as Happy in the Broadway revival of “Death of a Salesman.” Lane will portray Princess Kosmonopolis.

Lane, whose films include “The Perfect Storm,” “Unfaithful” and “Under the Tuscan Sun” among many others, will be seen as Martha Kent in “Man of Steel,” set for release in June 2013.

Chicago-bred director Cromer has been working primarily in New York in recent seasons. A production of “Sweet Bird” starring Nicole Kidman that he was to stage on Broadway a couple of years ago fell through.

Speaking by phone about her return to the stage for the first time since 1989, when she played Olivia in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Ma., Lane admitted: “I was kind of thunderstruck when David [Cromer] approached me because I had heard so much about his work. But then, after meeting him and talking with him, I felt confident that I would be in good hands. With a director it is part chemistry, part intuition and part sense of humor.

“Later, when we spoke again, we both had visual ideas and thoughts about wardrobe. And it reminded me of what a collaborative process theater is.”

In fact, Lane was a child actress who early in her career worked on the stage of New York’s fabled experimental outpost, La Mama, where she says she was “a child among wonderfully childlike people.”

Although the actress has yet to meet her costar, Finn, who plays the gigolo, Chance, she just happened to see him in “Death of a Salesman” and sensed he “was one of those people who have presence as a person as well as a character.”

The actress, 47, noted she is glad she has never seen a stage version of “Sweet Bird” because “it’s tough enough to erase memories of the film with Paul Newman and Geraldine Page, who amazingly was just 38 when she played Kosmonopolis.”

Lane has never been to the Goodman Theatre either.

“I love to just meet things head on,” she admitted, laughing.

As for a possible Broadway transfer, as Lane put it: “That’s the big unmentionable, right?”

In other Goodman news, Robert Falls will be directing Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” in spring 2013.

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