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A Family Affair

After an absence of 35 years (!) Shirley Jones returns to Broadway in 42nd Street, co-starring with her new favorite leading man, son Patrick Cassidy 
by Harry Haun

despite extraordinary physical evidence to the contrary, Shirley Jones just turned 70--and she 'fesses up to that fact cheerfully, without the hint of a wince. "Yes, it's shocking," she laughs, "but I've got to let it roll off my tongue." Actually, it's an easy admission to make if you look exactly the way one would want Laurey (Oklahoma!), Julie Carousel) and Marian the Librarian  (The Music Man) to look after the girlishness is gone. Shirley did all three in films, of course, achieving something of a royal flush in musical-theatre heroines. 

[[image - color photograph of
Shirley Jones and Patrick Cassidy in 42nd Street]]

At an age when her contemporaries are clucking over their grandkids' photos, Shirley is in the V.I.P. room deep in the catacombs of the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, reviewing the results of a photo shoot with her and her second-born, Patrick Cassidy, in costume for their roles in 42nd Street. "Doesn't he look presidential?" she beams with Partridge-like pride. "Y'know, he's up for a TV series on the Kennedys. That shot might get him the part....Here, we had some mother-son fun," she says of a picture of her adjusting his tie and him sighing in "Oh, Mom!" resignation. 

"There has never been a mother and son together in a Broadway musical before," she insists. "Ever. I would have thought there'd have been more, but they did research and said no. We are the first. All of my confrontation is with my son, which will be fun for the audience."

As Julian Marsh, a broken-down Broadway director attempting a comeback, Cassidy finds himself in the odd spot of making Mom mind him. She's Dorothy Brock, difficult Broadway diva prone to flare-ups and flame-outs. Theirs is a rocky road to Broadway--but tuneful.

"This is a different kind of singing for me," Shirley says. "It's not the real soprano stuff. Except for 'I Only Have Eyes for You,' it's up and swingy and something I haven't done before. I like the role, too. She's a real sort of bitchy gal, and I love playing those roles."

Can this be Shirley Partridge talking? Exactly, nods Shirley, who professes to prefer the tart and temperamental over the sweetness and light with which she is often associ-

www.playbill.com

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